LOUDER THAN BOMBS
Director: Joachim Trier
With: Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid, David Straithairn and Isabelle Huppert
Norway / Denmark / France, 2015 (109 min)
The Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s first two feature films Reprise (2006) and Oslo, August 31st (2011) is acting on a remarkably high level. It is, of course, about talented actors (such Anders Danielsen Lie who has starred in both films), but the same extent of skillful directing and sharp, engaging script, as Trier writes with Eskil Vogt.
In the director’s third feature Louder than bombs, which are recorded in the US, he has managed to attract Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg (who was nominated for an Oscar for The Social Network) and, in a minor role, David Strathairn to participate. I think it is the complexity of the story and the well-written characters with this super quartet to set up.
Complexity, like I said. The film requires full concentration, and initially some measure of patience, from the audience’s side when Trier alternates between the present and memory fragments. He puts into inner monologues and dream sequences. The film also contains gruesomely stylish slow-motion filming (photo Jacob Ihre) scenes.
When Louder than bombs kicks off the drama’s actual protagonist Isabelle Reed (Huppert) has been dead for three years. Isabelle was a fearless and successful war photographer, an ordinary evening near his home, died in a traffic accident, an accident that was never properly investigated.
The film’s first scenes is bright, with pictures of Isabelle’s eldest son, the happy newly-appointed father Jonah (Eisenberg). Jonah will, for the first time in a long time, go and visit his father Gene (Byrne) and little brother Conrad (Devin Druid). The purpose of the visit is to once and for all go through Isabelle’s belongings, you might find unpublished images that can be used in an upcoming exhibition. Then also the ability to repair broken family relationships appear. At the same time journalist Richard (Strathairn) to write an article about Isabelle Reed, an article to be partly about her death.
Trier is primarily interested in the character of studies. Conrad has developed into a recluse and a major consumer of violent video games, it’s the type of guy that can sit in front of computer and planning a school massacre (something commented on in the film). Gene is a soap opera actress who put her moderately successful career on the shelf. The question to ponder throughout the film path is: Who was Isabelle Reed, really? We get different answers depending on who tries to remember her.
Similar to Oslo, August 31st rests is something of a doomsday feeling of Louder than bombs. Joachim Trier has all the chances in the world to allow the film to end in total disaster, but he also has the ability to be cautiously optimistic. This is nevertheless no film to shake off in a hurry.
Also look at:
Harrison’s Flowers (Elie Chouraqui , 2000)
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005)
Things We Lost in the Fire (Susanne Bier, 2007)