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Louder Than Bombs – Film Review

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Louder Than Bombs – Film Review by Frank L.

Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Joachim Trier (screenplay), Eskil Vogt (screenplay)
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert

One the eve of a retrospective show of a deceased, famed New York war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert), Gene (Gabriel Byrne) her husband and two sons must come to terms with her death. Gene has issues as regards their marriage. She being away from home in dangerous war zones had resulted in him giving up his career as an actor. He had become a teacher in the local school, so he can look after their two boys. One of those boys Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) is sufficiently grown up to have fathered a baby son and the film begins with him fondling the little finger of the new born. His younger brother, Conrad (Devin Druid) is undoubtedly going through a very bad teenage bolshie phase. It is almost impossible to communicate with him. Then there are a series of disruptive forces at play including Gene’s wandering eye for Conrad’s teacher (Amy Ryan) and the simmering discontent of Jonah’s partner as he is away from his new born baby as he works on the Isabelle’s archive for the retrospective. Jonah too has a wandering eye. Into this disgruntled collection of relationships is added a new element namely Richard (David Strathairn) who had accompanied Isabelle on many of her overseas missions, knew her well and in consequence is writing a piece about her.

All of the acting is impressive with a particularly good performance by Gabriel Byrne. There is a fine score which underlines the uneasiness of the relationships within this awkward family. There are many flashbacks to when Isabelle was alive. The unease is intensified by Gene having hid information from Conrad and by his own naivity in relation to Isabelle’s long trips abroad. Gene’s discovery of certain aspects of Isabelle’s life adds a further layer of ineptitude into family. Trier has created a series of complex relationships within a family. While everything is modulated and calm for the most part there seems to be little or no development in the relationships other than Conrad appears to be coming out of his bolshie phase. The musical score added to the intensity of some of the scenes. It may well be worth a second visit to discern precisely at what Trier was driving. On an initial viewing there was a sense of “so what” about the story.

 

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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