Before her passing, Isabelle worked as a war photographer, and on the eve of her retrospective, a former colleague tells her widower Gene (Gabriel Byrne) that he won’t shy away from the harsh realities of the job. He’s writing an article about her, and he won’t pretend that her death was an accident; he knows the toll that her work took on her. The distance between Gene and his youngest son Conrad (Devin Druid) grows. The hope lies in the seemingly happy older brother Jonah (wonderfully played by Jessie Eisenberg).
If the film has a dramatic catalyst, it’s the impending article. Conrad doesn’t know that his mother took her life, and Gene doesn’t want him to find out from a newspaper. But talk of catalysts fails to capture what it’s like to watch Louder Than Bombs; this is not a propulsive film, instead it slowly spirals out, on occasion replaying the same scene from two different perspectives.
As we gradually come to know the family, we realise the full depth of their crisis. Conrad and Gene live together, but their relationship is strained to say the least; there’s a moment of particularly fine tragi-comedy in which father reaches out to son by trawling World of Warcraft for his online avatar. It’s one of many scenes in which writer-director Joachim Trier uses the material of digital life to powerful effect; the mac trash can gets it moment too.
Given the distance between him and Conrad, Gene hopes that the arrival of his older, and ostensibly happier son Jonah will turn the situation around. However, it gradually becomes apparent that Jonah is just as distressed as they are. There are few easy answers here, and while it may be slow-building, Louder Than Bombs is a detailed portrait of a grieving family, trying, sometimes hopelessly, to find solace in one another.
|What||Louder Than Bombs film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
22 Apr 16 – 24 Jun 16, Event times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|