• by Wes Singleton

Review: Louder than Bombs, B

Rated R, 109 minutes

The affecting, well-acted new drama "Louder than Bombs" explores a family's grief after the death of a loved one. Directed and co-written by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, it's a slow-moving, elusive but touching character study; it's not an exhaustive look but often a relatable one. A widower named Gene (Gabriel Byrne) and his two sons Jonah and Conrad (Jesse Eisenberg, David Druid) must cope with new details about the death of his wife Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), a famed war photographer. The well-written and acted drama "Louder than Bombs" can come across as distant and cold, even exhaustive, but then that may be the point, as grief can be all of those things. Trier skillfully handles the grief, finding some beautiful, even touching moments, which can be tricky with family dramas like this. It helps that is superbly acted by Byrne and Eisenberg, though it is most memorable for the breakout performance from newcomer Druid as the troubled young son, who hasn't benefited from his family's lack of communication about his Mom's death. Speaking of which, the Mom is also memorably played by French actress Huppert, who has never been more beguiling than she is here, seen in flashback throughout the film, and giving the movie some texture. Those flashbacks, heavily used throughout the film, occasionally give the film an uneven feel and there are a few subplots the film chases too much, but it's nice that Trier strives to let the audience in on each of the main character's, with Conrad's weird, stream of consciousness thoughts the most memorable. The satisfying climax, when the family finally begins dealing with and communicating about Isabelle's death so they can heal, you have a sense of relief. Silence, especially when concerned about death and grief, can be deafening. "Louder than Bombs" is worth your time, but stay with it.

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