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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Louder Than Bombs movie review: good grief?

Louder Than Bombs

Yet another installment in the long-running series Dead Women Make Men Feel Things. Seething with unspoken emotions, all of which are elusive and abstruse.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier’s first English-language film may be set in upstate New York, but it’s still pretty, well, Norwegian: somber, chilly, seething with unspoken emotions. Alas that those emotions — which are all the film is about — are rather more elusive and abstruse than is satisfyingtweet. Like the flip side of yet another English-language Norwegian film, 2014’s A Thousand Times Good Night, about the family strife a female conflict photographer faces at home in between her dangerous assignments, Louder Than Bombs gives us the family left behind when conflict photographer Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert [Amour] in a few flashbacks) is killed not on assignment but in an automobile accident close to home. It’s three years after her death, and in concert with a gallery retrospective of her work, her colleague Richard (David Strathairn: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) publishes an appreciation of her work that features a secret about her, which prompts a familial crisis for Isabelle’s husband, Gene (Gabriel Byrne: The 33), over how he will finally reveal this secret to their youngest son, teen Conrad (Devin Druid), a withdrawn loner; elder son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) is already clued in. None of Isabelle’s men are coping well in her absence — yes, this is yet another installment in the long-running series Dead Women Make Men Feel Things — but while moping may be understandable, it’s difficult to excuse all the bad behavior their inarticulate grief manifests as. Trier’s endless sympathy for them has the opposite of the intended affecttweet.

yellow light 2.5 stars

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Louder Than Bombs
US/Can release: Apr 08 2016
UK/Ire release: Apr 22 2016

MPAA: rated R for language, some sexual content, nudity and violent images
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, nudity, scene of implied sexual violence)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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