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Louder Than Bombs DVD Review

Louder Than Bombs (2016) movie poster Louder Than Bombs

US Theatrical Release: April 8, 2016 (Norwegian Release: October 2, 2015) / Running Time: 109 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Joachim Trier / Writers: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Cast: Gabriel Byrne (Gene Reed), Isabelle Huppert (Isabelle Joubert Reed), Jesse Eisenberg (Jonah Reed), Devin Druid (Conrad Reed), Amy Ryan (Hannah Brennan), David Strathairn (Richard Weissman), Rachel Brosnahan (Erin), Ruby Jerins (Melanie), Megan Ketch (Amy)

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When a European director gets noticed around the globe, there are often opportunities for them to come work in America. This is the path that Joachim Trier has taken. The Norwegian writer-director of the esteemed dramas Reprise (2006) and Oslo, August 31st (2011)
and a descendant of a family of filmmakers (but only a distant cousin to Denmark's Lars von Trier), Trier makes his English language debut on Louder Than Bombs, an internationally-financed, globally-cast drama that was quieter than a pindrop in a limited spring theatrical release that peaked at 40 venues.

Louder looks at life for a family that lost its matriarch a couple of years ago. Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) was renowned for her photography in war-torn countries and political hotbeds. Despite the danger of that profession, she died at 57 in a car accident near her home in Nyack, New York. The accident was actually more like a suicidal drive into an oncoming truck, culminating a life of depression. Isabelle's husband, former actor Gene (Gabriel Byrne), has kept that information from his teenaged son Conrad (Devin Druid), who has been spiraling in the solitude of headphones and first-person shooter computer games.

Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) listens to his younger brother Conrad (Devin Druid) share his personal writing in "Louder Than Bombs."

Conrad's older brother, Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg), knows the truth. A college professor with a PhD, Jonah has just welcomed his first child into the world with his wife Amy (Megan Ketch). But he's pulled away from the newborn baby and her mother to help his family deal with an in-depth new profile being written by New York Times reporter Richard Weissman (David Strathairn). Among other things, the article will disclose the true nature of Isabelle's death.

Louder plays with perspectives. It repeats an early scene from a different point of view and proceeds to bounce around chronologically for much of its runtime. It delves into the lives of these people who are still processing their wife/mother's death. The characters do questionable things. Gene is sleeping with Conrad's teacher (Amy Ryan).
Jonah doesn't correct a grieving ex-girlfriend's misunderstanding of his wife's hospital visit and goes on to bed her, for old times' sakes. And Conrad may have the biggest demons of all, though he is reluctant to open up about them to his father.

The film compels with these complex themes, vivid emotions, and three-dimensional characters. You may not sympathize with all or any of these family members, but you appreciate spending time with them and coming to know and understand them. Obviously, this material is kind of a hard sell for the public at large. The film ended up grossing just $164 thousand in theaters and has yet to accrue an official box office record elsewhere, even though it opened in Scandinavian cinemas well before here back in fall 2015. Eisenberg is used to making under-the-radar indie films and actually seems more comfortable with them than with the promotional demands and rabid interest in a movie like Batman v Superman.

Following its modest showing as a release of The Orchard, Louder hits DVD without a Blu-ray option on Tuesday from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Louder Than Bombs DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Black Keepcase
Also available on Instant Video


One misses the higher resolution and superior sharpness of Blu-ray, but Louder Than Bombs looks and sounds fine for standard definition. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound both get the job done suitably.

Joachim Trier directs Isabelle Huppert in the behind-the-scenes featurette. Joachim Trier directs Devin Druid in a photo gallery still.


Louder Than Bombs is joined by three bonus features on DVD.

First up is an audio commentary by director/co-writer Joachim Trier. Rather than covering the entire film, he speaks over just a few scenes, for a total of 15 minutes and 29 seconds. This is the second select scene commentary I've encountered this week, after years of not coming across any. A new trend? The director's English is flawless and his observations are thoughtful and reasonably interesting.

A short behind-the-scenes featurette (3:46) is notable for laying the audio of interview comments over clips from the film in addition to supplying a little behind-the-scenes footage.

Then, there is a photo gallery consisting of just 14 stills, which you'll navigate through continuously ad infinitum until you start recognizing the repeats.

"Previews" repeats the disc-opening trailers for The American Side, Almost Holy, and Love & Friendship.

The static, silent menu is simply adapted from the poster/cover art.

With no digital copy extended, no inserts join the silver disc inside the black keepcase.

Gene Reed (Gabriel Byrne) tails his teenaged son in "Louder Than Bombs."


Louder Than Bombs offers a mature, nonlinear look at a family's grieving process from multiple perspectives. This intelligent drama warrants a look, even in Sony's basic DVD-only release.

Buy Louder Than Bombs from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Isabelle Huppert: Amour Heaven's Gate Dead Man Down The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Gabriel Byrne: Secret State The 33 Dead Man The Usual Suspects Vampire Academy
Amy Ryan: Jack Goes Boating Gone Baby Gone
City Island Accidents Happen Lullaby

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Reviewed July 30, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 The Orchard, Motlys, Memento Films, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.