“As a viewer, you empathize with each different representation of pain.”

by Rachel Wilford

Louder Than Bombs has all the components of a great film: it is thought-provoking, honest, captivating, sporadically humorous, and it communicates a very real and relatable message. Although the film moves at a slower pace and there is no immediate excitement or thrill, it is able to capture your attention in other, subtler ways.

This indie film surrounds brothers Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad Reed (Devin Druid) as they try to find ways to cope with the loss of their mother, Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert), as well as navigate their relationships with their father, Gene (Gabriel Byrne). Both Gene and Jonah know the truth about Isabelle’s death but withdrawn and isolated Conrad, who was very young at the time of her death, is unaware. The film switches from flashbacks of the Reed family’s past to the unfolding story of their present, as a father and his sons struggle to find stability in the midst of tragedy.

Themes of life, love, and loss are dealt with throughout the film. Messages are misfired and misinterpreted by each character, both past and present. The film portrays Isabelle’s efforts to juggle her career, her passion, and her family in a way that is open and honest. The struggle to communicate between father and sons provokes empathy not just for one character, but for each.

Louder Than Bombs
Directed by
Joachim Trier
Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert
Release Date
22 April 2016
Rachel’s Grade: B+

Each character makes bad decisions in the film, but you don’t necessarily start to hate them or blame them for their actions. The film exhibits each character’s mistakes in a way that makes them understandable and (for the most part) acceptable. As a viewer, you empathize with each different representation of pain.

I truly did enjoy this film and I thought it was very stirring. However, there were elements of it that I realized had disappointed me as the credits began to roll. The film builds steadily and I didn’t even realize that I was waiting for something big to happen until something big did not happen and I felt unsettled. I wanted something more than the ending that was given…after everything that I, as the viewer, learned while watching the film, I just expected a little more anger from Gene, a little more exploding from Conrad, and a lot more remorse from Jonah. I felt like there was closure for the characters within the film, but there wasn’t enough closure for the audience.

Perhaps the point of the film is to give the audience the least dramatic, Hollywood-esque portrayal of loss and how loved ones deal with that loss, and I can respect that. However, it makes for a pretty anticlimactic finale when all of the characters do exactly what you would expect them to do but in the least exciting way possible.

Although I must say that Devin Druid does an outstanding job playing Conrad, considering that this is his first film. Druid seemed very natural and at ease in Conrad’s shoes (maybe because he actually is a reclusive, video game absorbed teen in his normal life) and I really enjoyed his portrayal of the misanthropic, misunderstood character.

The rawness of Louder Than Bombs is what will draw viewers toward this film, and I hope it reaches a widespread and generous audience despite its very limited release.