Norwegian Cinema: Louder Than Bombs

at Cinemas across UK

It’s not often Norwegian films are nominated for the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) in Cannes, but then again, Joachim Trier’s drama Louder Than Bombs isn’t just any other film. The film is set for general release in the UK 22 April.


The story in Louder Than Bombs takes place before an upcoming exhibition celebrating war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) three years after her untimely death. The exhibition has ripple effects into the lives of the family Reed left behind, and brings her eldest son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) back to the family house ­– forcing him to spend more time with his father Gene (Gabriel Byrne) and withdrawn younger brother Conrad (Devin Druid) than he has in years. With the three of them gathered under the same roof, Gene tries desperately to connect with his two sons, but they struggle to reconcile their feelings about the woman they remember so differently.

When asked in an interview to tell the story behind the title, director Joachim Trier explained that he was looking for a title that mirrored the balance between the small and tender pains of a family life set up against the great ambitions and experiences of a mother who’s working abroad as a war photographer. “The incomparability of pain is something I find intriguing. Of course, Louder Than Bombs is the title of the band The Smiths’ first American album, a compilation of their songs as they were approaching America for the first time. But the film is about neither war or The Smiths. I also discovered that The Smiths borrows the title from the American poet Elizabeth Smart, and her book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. And I love that those words had a specifically American provenance as I worked on this film set in the U.S.” Trier said.

In their Cannes review of the film, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “Trier has meaningful things to say about the ways in which tragic, incomprehensible loss can make us hyper-protective, jealous, even dishonest with our private memories and with the picture we present of the loved one who’s gone.”

Even though Louder Than Bombs was nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, Trier had to return home without an award. However, Joachim Trier is a name to know in the world of Norwegian film. Trier is that rarest of film-makers — a sublimely natural talent, though nurture doubtless played a role. His grandfather Erik Lochen, was a ground-breaking Norwegian director, and both of Mr. Trier’s parents and his brother have worked with movies. In 2013, Trier was named one of 20 Directors to Watch by the New York Times. As an internationally acclaimed and celebrated director and screenwriter, Trier is behind films as Reprise, which won the Amanda Award (Norway’s top film award) and Oslo, August 31st, which was selected for Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and nominated for the César award for Best Foreign Film 2013 after reaching over 180 000 admissions at theatres in France.

Norwegian Art

More from Norwegian Arts