CANNES, France (Reuters) - A portrait of a family shattered by the untimely death of a war photographer who has left behind her husband and two sons is Norwegian director Joachim Trier's first English-language film and a competition entry in Cannes.
"Louder Than Bombs" uses flashbacks to unravel the narrative, with Isabelle Huppert playing the photographer and Gabriel Byrne her husband.
A posthumous exhibition three years after her death brings the eldest son, played by Jesse Eisenberg, back to the family home, forcing him to spend more time with his father and withdrawn younger brother.
The film marks Trier's upgrade to the main Cannes competition after his 2011 film "Oslo, August 31st" was featured in the Un Certain Regard category at the festival.
Trier said he and his writing partner Eskil Vogt were more interested in showing human relationships than with other aspects of making a film.
"We don't usually start out with a plot that we can pitch in two lines. We spend a year brainstorming and discussing ideas that are sometimes of a visual nature, sometimes just about characters and then we try to structure the story," he told a news conference on Monday.
Byrne said he was impressed by Trier's approach to directing.
"A lot of directors don't understand what actors do and sometimes they over-direct them and they say things like 'Well, can you be happy but a little bit sad?' or 'Could you be tall and short at the same time and then throw it all away?'
"... Joachim directs in the way that is so caring not just of the actor but of the character and that's a wonderful thing to be exposed to," he said.
The plot shows the father and sons' feelings towards Huppert's character through different perspectives.
For French actress Huppert, who has previously presided over the jury at Cannes, the part allowed her to show her character from a number of angles.
"There are several people in one single person, several lives in one life. It is rare that in a film, they show what could seem to be obvious, which is how much, in a group of people, one person can be seen one way by some and differently by others.
"And I think even in her own eyes she is incomprehensible and it might be also for that reason that she disappears," Huppert said.
"Louder Than Bombs" is one of 19 films competing for the festival's top Palme d'Or award.
Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Alison Williams