Louder Than Bombs, the first English language film by Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier reveals a different side of the director who gave us the low-key drama Oslo, August 31 (‘Oslo, August 31st:’ a film about those small wasted opportunities of life). It features an ensemble cast of actors including Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Amy Ryan, Devin Druid and Jesse Eisenberg. I had a chance to speak to Eisenberg over the phone about this film (as well as bring up another). As he explains it, “The movie is kind of told from a few different perspectives, and you see how each character deals with grief in a different way. Everybody is kind of acting out in their own way but all because of the same feeling of loss.”
In the film, Eisenberg plays Jonah, a young man with a new family (his wife just had a baby), dealing with the sudden loss of his mother (Huppert). His teenage younger brother Conrad (Druid) is failing in school and their father (Byrne) seems clueless about what to do with him, so Jonah tries to awkwardly step up to the plate. “It’s probably the problem with sibling relationships,” offers Eisenberg, “which is that the older sibling, who probably is not that much more self-actualized than the younger one, is in a position to not only give advice, but to be a role model, sometimes prematurely.”
Eisenberg says he came to the role through “a series of unusual occurrences.” He actually nearly worked with Trier before this on a film adaptation of Eisenberg’s play The Revisionist (the actor is also a playwright). “I had just written a play that took place in Poland and then there were producers who wanted to turn the play into the movie, so they sent me DVDs of different European directors they thought might be appropriate. The best one they had sent me far and away was Joachim Trier’s film, Reprise. Then I thought, ‘Well this guy is great.’ Then, the play ended up becoming a play and not a movie.”
It wouldn’t be for another five years that the same producer would send Eisenberg Trier’s script for Louder Than Bombs. “I was so interested in doing it,” says the actor, “A) because I got another movie, and I thought he had a wonderful way with actors.”
Eisenberg reveals he will never see the final result, however. He says he never watches the movies he performs in. He hasn’t even watched the widely anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He also knows nothing about the superhero movie’s quick drop at the box office after its release about a month ago. “Not only do I not watch movies that I’ve been in, but I don’t read anything about them,” he states. “Well, you know, the movie is an incredible worldwide success. So, I think, that obviously people really like it. My family and friends who I speak to love it.”
As far as he’s concerned, the film experience for him is acting for the camera, and he feels good about the flick. “From what I know about it, I loved it,” he declares. “I mean, I thought the script was phenomenal, I thought the director was phenomenal and the other actors I got to work with were fantastic, so my kind of experience, especially evaluating it in any type of qualitative way, ends on set, so I haven’t read anything about it, and that’s how I am with any movie. Even with movies that are critically lauded and movies that are not critically lauded because it’s really uncomfortable to read something good or bad that you’re being criticized, even if it’s a nice scrutiny.”
You can read much more of my conversation with Eisenberg in the “Miami New Times,” where he comments on his “mystifying” acting career and the “alluring presence” of Huppert, not to mention adds a few more words on Batman V Superman. Jump through the Miami New Times’ Arts & Culture blog logo below to read it:
Louder Than Bombs runs 109 minutes and is rated R. It will have its exclusive Miami premiere at the Coral Gables Art Cinema this Friday, April 29. It is rolling out across the U.S. through the end of May. For dates near you, follow this link. All images were provided by the Orchard (except the final image as Lex Luthor by Warner Bros.) who also loaned me a preview screener DVD for the purpose of this interview.