Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs premiered in Cannes over the weekend. The film is a complex family drama, formed around the death of the war photographer/mother Isbaelle Reed, who dies in a car crash that is then revealed to be a suicide. The film follows the two brothers Jonah and in particular Conrad as they come to terms with life and struggle against a journalist who wants to reveal the true case of death. The elder son Jonah knows about the suicide and Conrad is dealing with teenage-hood. Originally the production was halted due to funding, but after years of production the film has finally been completed. But what do the critics think?
In what can only be described as the smoothest of transitions, Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s English-language debut finds him in top form, completely at ease with the language and fluently using to great effect the same subtle approach and lively visual grammar perfected in his two earlier films, Reprise and Oslo, August 31st. This story of the husband and two sons of a celebrated war photographer who try to find a common ground three years after her death in a traffic accident is richly detailed, sensitively played and cleverly mounted.
hat lack of total closure means it’s a film that’s going to feel unsatisfying to many. I’m not even sure that I feel entirely satisfied, but Trier’s sensibility for the dynamics of family, for the depiction of nebulous memory, and for the detail of life (the film’s full of beautiful, complex scenes), means that I’m already eager to take a second look and see what else there is to unpack.
The film is a highly ambitious, existential drama, with particular emphasis on the difficult compassionate communication; how we can become strangers to our nearest and thus to ourselves – with irreparable solitude imminent danger.
The frustrating thing about this movie is that it begins with a tremendously funny and unexpected scene: Eisenberg becomes the father of a baby son and wanders through the hospital in search of food for his ravenously hungry wife: he comes across his old girlfriend, in the same hospital to care for her ailing mother — a clever, ambiguous scene ensues. Nothing in the film comes anywhere near matching this, although Vogt and Trier try to create some elegant and disorientating POV shifts as Byrne’s dad spies on his errant boy.
The Guardian seems to be the most negative review we found (giving it 2 stars) – however they said Joachim Trier was Danish.
There are few Scandinavian filmmakers have tackled the transition to an English speaking film world with access to bigger stars and budgets. Therefore, it is a relief to note that Joachim Trier, with the help of co Eskil Vogt, has exploited this opportunity well. Louder than Bombs is a tender, complex family drama for adults […] but with a cinematic sensibility that is more playful than these more traditional dramas allowed himself to be. And thankfully keeps Trier and Vogt the US familiedramaets scourge, sentimentality, at arm’s length.
The themes of grief, regret and damaged lives are territory into which Trier and his regular co-writer Eskil Vogt enter with their customary intelligence. But the character observation is both less original and less consistent than usual, and though this is a contemporary drama, it often feels awkwardly like a period piece, at times recalling Ang Lee‘s superior The Ice Storm in tone.