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Cinema Review: Louder Than Bombs ***

Amy Taylor reviews a film 'with some stunning imagery, but little else'.

Joachim Trier’s English-language debut Louder Than Bombs (he garnered critical acclaim with Oslo at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, which was written by Trier and Eskil Vogt, a fellow Norwegian director, who also co-wrote this film) delves deep into the splintered members of a fractured family, and comes up with some stunning imagery, but little else.

Centred around the family of esteemed war photographer Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), her family, including her husband, Gene, (Gabriel Byrne) and her two sons, the teenager, Conrad (Devin Druid) and her elder son, Jonah, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who does his best ‘Jesse Eisenberg-esque awkward-new dad who has more problems than he lets on’ thing.

After years of silence, secrets and lies following Isabelle’s sudden death, the three are forced to deal with the fallout from her death after a retrospective exhibition of her work and an eye-opening profile in a national newspaper are planned, each character is forced to deal with their own issues regarding their long-departed matriarch.

Louder Than Bombs is a beautiful film. It is filled with exceptional moments and exquisite scenes that have been shot so delicately, and so respectfully, that they contrast with some of the film’s more light-hearted moments. At the heart of it all, it’s a film that questions how well we actually know those closest to us, and what we discover if and when they go.

At times, it’s not clear whether this is meant to be a tragedy, a comedy, or something in-between. We have the death of the mother, the comedy of the first-time father, who is just trying to keep everyone happy and the curious stalemate between the father and the teenage son, which culminates in a very amusing scene where they try to bond with each other over a computer game.

But there’s something about Louder Than Bombs that falls flat, and it’s that there’s just so much noise, so much going on within it, that it’s hard to find the voices that we should really be listening to.

Seen as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival.

Tags: events cinema

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