A director making a big splash in a foreign territory often means that their next piece of work will grab a wider, more mainstream release. For many of these films, they’re heckled into a corner by a studio’s decision to tell the story in the English language. I can’t help but feel that a lot of Louder than Bombs got lost in translation. Screenwriters Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt’s previous work shines; but that’s in their native language, where they are not trying to dance around American idioms.
It has been four years since esteemed war photographer Isabelle Huppert died. Leaving behind her two sons and husband, she was in a car collision most assumed was accidental. But with the truth set to be unveiled in a New York Times article, her husband must find the chance to deliver the brutal reality to his lonely, unbeknownst son.
Let’s not be unfairly harsh on the film. A lot of it is beautifully performed and beating with the sort of nuance that Trier is known for. The supporting cast outshines the true Hollywood stars here. Devin Druid, a big screen newcomer who plays Conrad the family’s younger sibling, plays the role of the teen outcast rather well. He’s the kind of character that tends to get trapped in the downtrodden and struggles to get out of it, and yet here his character displays an emotional spectrum most actors in this position tend to ignore. The characters all remain reticent about the theme of their mother, played impeccably by Isabelle Huppert. Her neither here not there presence makes those moments where she does grace the screen even more sweet. She’s a fine talent, perfectly suited to this film.
The script itself isn’t all bad either. In fact, it manages to hold its own through the entire feature; rarely becoming monotonous like most near static dramas can be. Moments of self indulgence (black and white, dreamlike cut scenes) are forgiven, simply due to the fact that the chemistry of its characters can really be quite something.
It may be brimming with great performances and be touchingly restrained; but something tells me that later down the line, Louder than Bombs will fail to detonate.
Louder than Bombs had its world premiere at the 68th Festival de Cannes on May 18th