Louder Than Bombs

2015

Action / Drama

29
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 68%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 64%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 9387

Synopsis


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Amy Ryan as Hannah
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773.5 MB
1280*682
English
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1hr 49 min
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English
R
25 fps
1hr 49 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by David Ferguson 6 / 10

Let's don't talk about it

Greetings again from the darkness. Sometimes we just can't "get over it". Three years after a war photographer dies in a suspicious car accident, her husband and two sons find themselves in various states of emotional distress. Everyone deals with guilt in their own way, but these three seem to be doing anything and everything to avoid actually dealing with the emotional fallout.

Writer/director Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31) delivers his first English-speaking film with an assist from co-writer Eskil Vogt and a terrific cast. As we would expect from Mr. Trier, it's a visually stylish film with some stunning images … and the timeline is anything but simple as we bounce from past to present, and from the perspective of different characters (sometimes with the same scene).

The creativity involved with the story telling and technical aspects have no impact whatsoever on the pacing. To say that the film is meticulously paced would be a kind way of saying many viewers may actually get restless/bored with how slowly things move at times. Trier uses this pacing to help us experience some of the frustration and discomfort that each of the characters feel.

Isabelle Huppert plays the mother/wife in some wonderful flashback and dream-like sequences, while Gabriel Byrne plays her surviving husband. Jesse Eisenberg as Jonah, and Devin Druid as Conrad are the sons, and as brothers they struggle to connect with each other … just as the father struggles to connect with each of them. In fact, it's a film filled with characters who lie to each other, lie to themselves, and lie to others. It's no mystery why they are each miserable in their own way. The suppressed emotions are at times overwhelming, and it's especially difficult to see the youngest son struggle with social aspects of high school … it's a spellbinding performance from Devin Druid ("Olive Kitteridge").

Jesse Eisenberg manages to tone down his usual hyper-obnoxious mannerisms, yet still create the most unlikable character in the film … and that's saying a lot. Mr. Byrne delivers a solid performance as the Dad who is quite flawed, and other supporting work is provided by David Strathairn and Amy Ryan. The shadow cast by this woman is enormous and deep … and for nearly two hours we watch the family she left behind come to grips with her death and each other. It's a film done well, but only you can decide if it sounds like a good way to spend two hours.

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 8 / 10

Heavy-duty and complex family drama delivers the goods

"Louder Than Bombs" (2015 release from Norway/France; 109 min.) brings the story of the Reed family. As the movie opens, we see Jonah Red (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in the hospital with his wife and their newborn baby. After the movie's opening credits, we then shift to Isabelle Reed (played by Isabelle Huppert), a NYT was photographer who perished a few years ago and is now the subject of a retrospective. The NYT reporter who worked with her is going to write a long piece on it, and gives a heads up to widower Gene Reed (played by Gabriel Byrne). Finally, we also get to know Conrad Reed, the younger brother of Jonah. Conrad is struggling in high school, and also at home. At this point we're about 15 minutes into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier, whose previous movie, 2011's "Oslo, August 31st" was outstanding. This is his first English language movie, and here Trier dives into a complex family drama. It took me a while to figure out who was who, and what exactly is going on. Perhaps the emotional linchpin of the movie is young Conrad (played by newcomer--for me anyway Devin Druid), who's sulking character at first is not very likable, but as more and more peels of the onion are removed, the Conrad character is developed deeper and fuller. When older brother Jonah urges Conrad to "sit out" the high school years, Conrad nods but of course does the exact opposite... The movie structure for "Louder Than Bombs" is further complicated because of the multiple flashbacks involving Isabelle. And how exactly did she die anyway? This movie reminded me at times of the Robert Redford-directed family drama "Ordinary People" from 1980. In other words: heavy duty stuff. I don't know whether Eisenberg has played a better role in his still relatively young career. He is vulnerable as the older brother and the husband, trying to deal with a lot of things coming at him in life. Also keep your eyes out for a fairly small role from up-and-coming Rachel Brosnahan as Jonah's ex-girlfriend Erin. People sometimes make good choices, sometimes bad choices, "but you can't plan for what happens after you've made a choice", cautions the NYT journalist at one point. There is a lot of good music in the film, both as to the original score composed by Ola Fløttum (unknown to me), and as to other incidental music (including Tangerine Dream's "Love On a Real Train" in a newly re-recorded and extended version).

The theater's Sunday matinée screening where I saw this at this past weekend turned out to be a private screening, as in: I literally was the only person in the theater. That is a darn shame. I recognize that this type of film isn't going to attract big crowds, but not even a small crowd? Jeez... Maybe this movie will find a larger audience on VOD or when it is eventually released on DVD/Blu-ray. Regardless, if you are in the movie for a heavy duty family drama that features some great performances, you cannot go wrong with this. "Louder Than Bombs" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Reviewed by RichardAlaba-CineMuse 7 / 10

...this film is like a bomb about to explode

Most coming-of-age films lean on the romantic comedy or melodrama for shape and structure, usually with a linear storyline that leads to a metaphorical awakening or some other resolution. As you might expect from a Norwegian director, Louder than Bombs (2015) avoids this well-trodden approach by telling a multi-layered fractured tale that looks more like a thriller than a teen-drama. Adolescents who clam-up tightly to exclude the world while they catch up with its emotional challenges are common stories. The one in this film is like a bomb about to explode and his story forms the narrative spine along which several sub-plots radiate in all directions.

Conrad is an introspective young war-gamer who has closed off to the world since his famous war photographer mother Isabelle was killed three years ago. He keeps to himself at school and defiantly ignores his well-meaning ex-TV star father. A photo exhibition is planned to commemorate Isabelle's work and a former colleague plans an article that will reveal the secret truth of Isabelle's suicide. Conrad has been shielded from this truth, as well as from the affairs of his father and brother. Over-protection has increasingly isolated him until he tries to connect with a girl in class. It's a complex non-liner plot line with several flashbacks that shift across narrative lines to create the visual effect of a perfect storm of fractured people. Isabelle's war images and her memory keep appearing but the battle we are seeing is raging in the minds of those she left behind who struggle to move on with their lives.

The film has an unsettling asymmetrical style about it. You find it in the withholding of truths, in the gender inversion of a war zone mother and a TV soapies father, and in hair-trigger Conrad lashing out in all directions. While the acting is often melodramatic, the filming is edgy with sharp editing cuts and sudden discordant images that feel out of context (like tumbling aerial schoolgirls). It has an uneven but reflective pace that disorients the viewer and leaves them uncertain how the story can hold together. But through the foggy mess of their lives appears hope for better times. More art-house than spoon-fed, the film feels refreshingly free of clichés and leaves you thinking about the impact of distant memories on daily lives.

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