Review by Leslie Byron Pitt
Louder than Bombs deals with an ex-actor (Gabriel Byrne) and his two sons (Devin Druid and Jesse Eisenberg) try their best to confront their fractured feelings of their lives and each other on the eve of an exhibition of their deceased wife and mother (Isabelle Huppert). This somber tale is the first English-language feature from Norwegian director Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31st) And for the most part, this fragile piece does well to hold together.
A lot of this is down to its impressive cast who thoroughly capture the tender dispositions of this isolated family struck by such an unpredictable event. From the sullen Gabriel Byrne to the always watchable Isabelle Hubbert, who manages to infuse the ex-war photographer Isabelle with some fascinating moments.
More could be done with this, as Triers film only really deals with broken male communication. As Isabelle’s death looms large over the three men, they slowly become more cracked and defective towards each other. It’s clear that Isabelle’s influence is so deeply ingrained in them, that they can do little but fall apart even more as details about their mother creep to the surface. What frustrates is that Isabelle’s life seems far more interesting than that of the grieving actor, the responsibility shunning professor and the growing teenage boy.
The film doesn’t cover new ground and Trier’s film holds flashes of immodesty with its dream sequences and convoluted voice over moments which look to make the film appear fresher than it actually is. However, it’s delicate cinematography and grounded performances ensure that Louder Than Bombs still manages to handle itself with a certain amount of restraint that a more typical “Oscar baity” feature would never really aim for. There’s nothing in Louder Than Bombs that makes it vastly superior to other dramas of its ilk, yet there’s still enough substance here to make it worth seeking.
Louder Than Bombs is out on home release from 15th August