This is listed as a Norwegian film, as the director Joachim Trier is from Norway, but it’s set in the US with mainly Hollywood actors so it feels American. It has an interesting and promising premise. A widower struggles to communicate with his two sons after the death of their mother, Isabelle. She was a celebrated war photographer and it soon becomes apparent that she took her own life.
The father lives with his teenage son, Conrad, who was only 12 when his mother died. Conrad has withdrawn from his father and is behaving oddly, refusing to talk, lying, spending many hours blocking out all other sound and chances for conversation. We think the older son, Jonah, has it all together with a job, wife and new baby, but cracks start to appear when he returns home on the eve of the publication of a revealing story about Isabelle.
This film is, of course, about grief and how it drives families apart but at the core, is the story of Isabelle. We see her struggle with being a voyeur of the grief and tragedy of others, albeit with good intentions, and I’m not sure that any of the other characters ever fully understood this.
I found this film ponderous. It could have done with some editing or perhaps a bit more movement in the narrative. I don’t think it’s slow pace added much to the viewer’s experience, other than some yawns.