Louder Than Bombs begins quite simply with Jonah’s (Jesse Eisenberg – Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice) wife, Amy (Megan Ketch), giving birth to their new child, but then he’s called away back to the family home, a six-hour drive away, to help sort through the work of his late mother, Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert – Amour). Prior to her fatal car crash, she was a celebrated war photographer, and hadn’t had chance to sort through the multitude of final shots. A gallery wants to put on a display of her pictures, and her former colleague Richard (David Strathairn) wants to write an in-depth article about her as a tribute.
It’s been two years since the incident, and widower Gene (Gabriel Byrne), a former actor turned teacher, still can’t face dealing with it. Hence, his son Jonah’s eagerness to complete the task is most welcome, or is there more to him wanting to get away from the smelly nappies? Either way, they’ve got to cut through the funk that the youngest member of the family, Conrad (Devin Druid), still can’t claw his way out of as he relives imagining the car crash over and over in his mind whilst also obsessing over classmate Melanie (Ruby Jerins).
Ms Huppert doesn’t get off lightly with a cameo, however, since the film jumps back and forth in time quite brilliantly, as elements of the plot are revealed in a way that can only be told in that format.
With great support from Amy Ryan (Birdman), as Conrad’s teacher Hannah, Louder Than Bombs is a wonderful slice-of-life drama which grips you and holds you in by the fact that it’s well-written, well-acted from all concerned, and doesn’t tell its tale in a linear fashion like most films would, neatly looking at relationships within a family, as well as the tricky aspect of a lad wanting to get to know the unobtainable girl at school.
And something I’ll hide behind a spoiler heading which you should only read if you’ve seen this…
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and it looks as stunning as you’d expect a modern movie to look, this one showing a New York where it never rains.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and it’s mainly used for atmospheric sound effects, relecting situations shown in the film which I don’t want to reveal here, but what I can tell you is that it has a marvellous evocative soundtrack, with a glorious memorable theme, all courtesy of composer Ola Fløttum.
The extras are as follows, and there’s not a huge amount:
- Interview with Joachim Trier (13:40): Less an interview, and more one of my pet hates, in that this is one of those Q&A extras where the Q is a silent caption, and the interviewee gives the answer afterwards, so it’s just something breakfast TV can slot into their schedules as and when they feel. Also, with 9 chapters, for the 9 questions, it highlights the absurd ‘standard 12 chapters for the movie’ even more.
- Behind the Scenes (3:41): Brief on-set footage, mixing in chat from key cast members with clips from the film. Not hugely insightful. Again, typical TV filler.
- Theatrical trailer (1:54): A trailer that doesn’t give too much away.
- Also available from Joachim Trier (1:58): While there are some trailers before the main menu (which I won’t name because they shouldn’t be there), this is where trailers should remain, and… well, there’s just one, and it’s for the director’s previous movie, Oslo, August 31st.
The menu is a simple affair with a static shot of leaping cheerleaders (it’ll make sense when you watch the film) set against the main Louder Than Bombs theme from Ola Fløttum. Subtitles are in English only, and there are a bog-standard 12 chapters.
Running time: 109 minutes
Distributor: Soda Pictures
Released: August 15th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Joachim Trier
Producers: Joshua Astrachan, Albert Berger, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Thomas Robsahm, Marc Turtletaub and Ron Yerxa
Screenplay: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Music: Ola Fløttum
Gene: Gabriel Byrne
Jonah: Jesse Eisenberg
Isabelle: Isabelle Huppert
Conrad: Devin Druid
Hannah: Amy Ryan
Melanie: Ruby Jerins
Amy: Megan Ketch
Richard: David Strathairn
Erin: Rachel Brosnahan
Kenneth: Russell Posner
The Agency Woman: Maryann Urbano
The Curator: Donna Mitchell
Ralph: Harry Ford
Principal: Leslie Lyles
Melanie’s Father: Sean Cullen
Melanie’s Friend #1: Marielle Holland
Melanie’s Friend #2: Bridget McGarry
Charlie Rose: Charlie Rose
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.