Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier’s first English-language film may be set in upstate New York, but it’s still fairly, well, Norwegian: somber, chilly and seething with unspoken emotions. Alas that those emotions—which are all the film is about—are more elusive and abstruse than is satisfying. Here we meet the family left behind when conflict photographer Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert, in a few flashbacks) is killed—not on assignment, but in an automobile accident close to home. It’s three years after her death, and in concert with a gallery retrospective of her work, her colleague Richard (David Strathairn) publishes an appreciation of her work that features a secret about her, which prompts a familial crisis for Isabelle’s husband, Gene (Gabriel Byrne), over how he will finally reveal this secret to their youngest son, teen Conrad (Devin Druid), a withdrawn loner; elder son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) is already clued in. None of Isabelle’s men are coping well in her absence, but while moping may be understandable, it’s difficult to excuse all the bad behavior their inarticulate grief manifests as. Trier’s endless sympathy for them has the opposite of the intended effect.
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