In a world where films are so often dominated by explosions, loud music, and shiny CGI, it can feel very powerful to watch one that is the complete opposite. ‘Louder Than Bombs’, the first English-speaking film directed by Joachim Trier (‘Oslo, August 31st’ and ‘Reprise’), is certainly one of those films.
After the death of famous war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert), killed in a car crash just a short while after retiring from her all-consuming career, her bereaved husband and two boys are struggling to cope. Conrad (Devin Druid), the youngest, has retreated completely within his shell, spending the majority of his time either playing online games or walking around with his headphones securely attached. His father, Gene (Gabriel Byrne) – who seems to never have been that great at communicating anyway, is struggling to connect with him and so when the older brother, Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg), comes down to sort through Isabelle’s untouched photography work, it appears he might be the glue to stick them all back together. Jonah is running away from his own problems though, and it soon becomes apparent that each character needs the others more than ever as their lives continue to slowly fall apart.
The plot for ‘Louder Than Bombs’ is quite loose, but still has something about it that gets you engaged the whole way through, It’s slow and cautious in its progression, spending a considerable amount of time focusing on the smaller things – the expression a character makes, or the way the light filters into the scene. There’s a lot of beauty in the story but it’s seen in each individual moment, rather than told within the script.
The slow-motion scenes are some of my favourites – although this is a technique that is really quite overused nowadays, Trier pulled it off in both a subtle and striking way. Dream sequences are woven into the narrative in a way that takes you a minute to realise they’re not real, and they often have a three-dimensional quality to them that makes you feel like you’re actually within the scene. They can be quite surreal, but give us an insight into each character that perhaps we couldn’t have got with just words.
Devin Druid is fairly new on the acting scene and so hasn’t been in too much, but he really becomes this role. Even with the well-known Eisenberg starring alongside him I’d still say that it’s Druid that really makes a big impact within the film. The tension between all of the characters is wholly believable though, and their relationships come across as fractured. As events unfold Conrad is the one who we really start to feel for the most and, despite everyone becoming less positive, we also still want the family to get stitched back together somehow.
Although it’s a slow and perhaps sometimes difficult watch, ‘Louder Than Bombs’ captures the pain and loneliness of grief in a multitude of different ways. If you enjoy films with a similar style to ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ and ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene” then this is the film for you. 5/5
Louder Than Bombs at CeX
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