Louder Than Bombs
With a mixed, uneven outcome, Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs tries to recreate the professional and personal life of war photographer Isabelle Reed. The film shows her drive, aspiration and troubled soul in a post-mortem examination of her career and, most of all, shows the close family she left behind. When a gallery plans to display a big retrospective of Isabelle’s photographic legacy and a close colleague is about to publish a revealing article, her husband Gene (Gabriel Byrne), and two sons Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (Devin Druid) are forced to account for the past and confront each other’s suppressed emotions.
Conrad was too young to be told the truth about his mother’s suicide when it occurred and, since then, has been drowning in his troubled imagination and withdrawn existence, dominated by video games and compensational writings. He has lost all affection and attachment to his father, a calm, insignificant teacher who was, in his conventional nature, an anchor in the life of the globetrotting journalist. The viewer has little understanding of how and why this couple has ever gotten together and it’s at least consistent that Byrne and Huppert lack chemistry in their flashback scenes together. However these contrasting characters found a fascination for each other, Gene did not manage to keep Isabelle from frequently departing for her dangerous missions, even when she already steered towards distress and depression.
The older and slightly more pragmatic son Jonah has tried to escape, to move on quickly by starting his own family, away from home. Returning now to take on the job of putting huge piles of his mother’s photos in order, he has to face the fragility of his new life and experience the weight of the past. Louder Than Bombs wants to be many things at the same time, in an effort to merge elements of psychological study, family drama and coming-of-age story, while addressing issues of war coverage and the effect it can have on journalists. Not many of these things seem like they were thought through and in the end, the film remains hanging in the air. The audience is left with the worst impression a personal drama can leave: they just don’t care very much about these people.
Louder Than Bombs does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch an excerpt of Louder than Bombs here: