When I reviewed the campaign for Louder Than Bombs back in April I thought it looked like an intense drama but seemed a bit too heavy on telling all about the philosophical problems of well-off white people. If the biggest concern you have is that two gorgeous women want you or that you need to give up a successful career then you’re definitely suffering from White People Problems.
That forms the core of the movie’s story. Gabriel Byrne plays Gene, the father of two boys, Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (Devin Druid). The older is a university professor whose wife has just had a baby while the younger is still in high school and incredibly socially awkward. Their mother, Gene’s wife Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) died recently after a long career as an acclaimed photojournalist, apparently killing herself by running her car into an oncoming truck. So the three men have to sort through her things in advance of a retrospective showing of her work as well as a tell-all New York Times story. The latter is especially important since Conrad, who was only 12 at the time of Isabelle’s death, doesn’t know it was like a suicide. So the movie is about the three men navigating around each other’s emotions.
It’s not a bad movie. Indeed there are some very good performances from Eisenberg and Byrne as well as Huppert, though she’s only seen in flashbacks and has kind of a thankless role since she’s being fridged for the sake of the story. Her primary role, which wasn’t all that evident in the marketing, is to provide the backstory through which we’re supposed to understand the messed up way Jonah treats his wife, including hooking up with an ex-girlfriend while he’s in town attending to his mother’s estate and constantly delaying going back to his new family. Isabelle’s presence in the story is also meant to add weight to the new romantic relationship Gene is in at the moment.
The trailer and the rest of the campaign actually does a surprisingly good job of selling the movie as it truly is. There isn’t a lot that’s missing from the campaign in terms of structure and style, just the usual bits that would reveal important plot points. But overall it’s an accurate campaign that didn’t mislead the audience much at all.
If there’s one thing that the marketing didn’t truly convey it’s that most all the characters, especially Jonah, are just kind of bad people. They act almost entirely out of their own self-interest and in sometimes truly despicable ways, such as when Jonah lies about his wife having cancer solely so he can sleep with his ex-girlfriend while that wife and his newborn child are far away. There’s not much in the way of sympathetic actions going on, it’s all deceit and selfishness. So if you’re having a hard time relating to a well-off family where almost everyone is *too* successful, their actions will likely only make that worse.