Magazine article Variety

Louder Than Bombs

Magazine article Variety

Louder Than Bombs

Article excerpt

CANNES REVIEW

Louder Than Bombs

director: Joachim Trier

starring: Gabriel Byrne. Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg

In the 35 years since "Ordinary People," American cinema has told and retold stories of how a death in the family can reveal the dysfunction no one wanted to admit was there. "Louder Than Bombs" studies how a widower and his two sons cope with learning the circumstances of the accident that killed his warphotographer wife, but it also manages to be the opposite of nearly every other film in the genre. Directed by Joachim Trier, "Bombs" asks audiences to bring their brains, eschewing grand catharsis in favor of subtle psychological nuance, resulting in a film that runs cold on the surface, but rewards arthouse audiences willing to give it a deeper reading.

Photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) was trying to change the world. Your average picture may merit a thousand words, but one of Reed's, snapped in hot zones around the world and routinely landing on page one of the New York Times, was potentially powerful enough to have an almost nuclear effect. Obviously, such a career can ruin a person, too, resulting in a kind of post-traumatic stress. Huppert barely appears in the film, haunting the edges like a ghost, viewed slightly differently by everyone who remembers her - precisely the sort of formally intriguing challenge at which Trier excels, considering the way he shuffles chronology and perspective.

For Times colleague Richard Weissman (David Strathaim), Isabelle represents a fallen hero whose memory he seeks to honor by writing a column timed to coincide with a posthumous retrospective of her work - a story in which he intends to reveal that Isabelle's death was almost certainly a suicide. For Isabelle's husband, Gene (Gabriel Byrne), that deadline means having to re-examine his feelings toward his wife, as well as breaking the news to his sulky teenage son, Conrad (played by "Olive Kitteridge's" promising Devin Druid). Meanwhile, older sibling Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg, once again typecast as the neurotic academic) seems more well adjusted at first, having just fathered an infant son, though he clearly has no shortage of issues to work through as well.

Yet the characters coping with Isabelle's death often seem like mere vessels in service to the parallel theme Trier and writing partner Eskil Vogt have opted to explore within the project: the issue of artistic ambition, and how committing to a creative career (or abandoning it, as the case may be) shapes our lives and the relationships we maintain with loved ones. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.