Cannes 2015: Louder Than Bombs Review - A Lucid Film With Hidden Genius

Destined to be known as the movie where Jesse Eisenberg stopped being a geek.

Rating: ˜…˜…˜…˜… With his first English language film, Joachim Trier (no direct relation to Lars) has made a picture that is in the broadest sense looking at PTSD, with a twist that its focus is on the long terms effects it has on those around the sufferer. The film starts a few years after a war photographer has died in a car crash, allegedly an accident but really an act of suicide, seeing her widower and two sons still recovering when an exhibition of her work and incredibly personal NYT retrospective are unveiled. That alone is an interesting take on a prevalent issue, but the subtextual aims are much grander. Louder Than Bombs is an incredibly lucid film, jumping from dreams to hallucinations to flashbacks to documentary clips to internal monologues and back again with unfussed fluidity. All presented in a very natural manner, there's no distinction between the imagined and the real, making for a film that rewards close observation with a layered story. Through the consistent presentation, we can see how each character places themselves at the centre of their own narrative - both son Conrad (newcomer Devin Druid and the film's de facto lead) and Gabriel Byrne's father even narrate their lives in their head from a third person perspective as if the protagonist of a novel. It's a pretty universal observation of self-interest, but in the context of the story shows how each member of the family shields themselves from the bigger picture. At one point a scene is even replayed from a different person's perspective, painting earlier events in a opposite light. This is a great way to show Byrne attempting to connect with his son by having him remember telling his wife about the time he joined World Of Warcraft, or see how Conrad, unaware of the truth behind his mother's demise, is haunted by his imagination of the event, sent into a vivid daydream by a reading in class. It's the embodiment of show-don't-tell filmmaking. Although Bombs is in the English language, this is unlikely to have the same wide appeal as fellow Competition entrants Carol and The Lobster, but at least it'll be remembered as a key step in the ever-growing career of Jesse Eisenberg. After being the subject of the pre-title opening, his Jonah, the eldest son, is a supporting player for much of the film, a purposeful decision that emphasises the other characters' personal conflicts. Even with less (but by no means little) screentime, the future Lex Luthor is very impressive, slowly revealed as broken as the rest of his family. Since The Social Network (which gets a ring-tone shout-out) he's been picking increasingly challenging projects with more diverse roles, and here he finally takes the full leap away from awkward geek. Keep up with all of our Cannes 2015 coverage on the official page here.

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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.