The pairing of John Hawkes and Logan Lerman as father and son was always going to be an interesting one. Unfortunately, it’s a shame that End of Sentence doesn’t do more with that duo. While both are somewhat playing against type, the film surrounding them is so slight and so slack with its storytelling that it’s hard to appreciate them. A mix of narrative stumbling blocks and lack of notable dramatic conflict make it far too easy to see every turn of the road here. There are some very nice moments, but they don’t add up to make a flick that I can recommend today.
The movie is a drama about a father and son attempting (at least on one end) to reconnect while on a road trip in Ireland. Frank Fogle (Hawkes) has always has a tough relationship with his troublemaking son Sean (Lerman). A genial and even withdrawn man, he haven’t spoken in years to his son, partly due to the latter’s incarceration. When Frank’s wife and Sean’s mother Anna (Andrea Irvine) passes away from cancer, her dying wish involves bringing the two back together. Once releases from prison, Sean wants to head to California for a job, but Frank convinces him to fly to Ireland with him to scatter Anna’s ashes in a specific spot. After that, they never have to speak again. Of course, it’s not that simple, especially once Jewel (Sarah Bolger), a troubled girl Sean meets in a bar, ends up tagging along. Elfar Adalsteins directs a screenplay by Michael Armbruster, with cinematography from Karl Oskarsson. Supporting players include David Grant Wright, Sean Mahon, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and more.
John Hawkes and Logan Lerman get to do something different here, and that’s worth taking note of. The film doesn’t nearly make the best use of them possible, but seeing them stretch their acting muscles a bit is certainly a small pleasure. Hawkes is usually so intense and coiled, seeing him essay such a passive individual is undoubtedly interesting. Likewise, seeing Lerman playing a more aggressive character holds your attention for a while. Sadly, it’s not long in that you realize that the production doesn’t fully know what to do with them. The cliched and easily predictable story never overcomes this issue. The two don’t have much chemistry together and end up just making for an awkward pair.
End of Sentence just never manages to consistently keep your interest. Sure, it’s tender and well made, but it’s so thin that you can’t help but be left wanting a bit more. Hawkes and Lerman do their part, but the script from Michael Armbruster, as well as the direction by Elfar Adalsteins, just float on by without any real heft. Sarah Bolger’s Jewel is an interesting diversion, but she ends up just being there to pad out the running length, which is a real shame. Bolger has a charm missing from the rest of the flick. Trust me, it definitely needs it, too. Sure, the ending is slightly emotional, but it also leaves way too much up in the air. Some films can do that and succeed. This is not one of those.
Today, I feel like a grinch not falling for End of Sentence like almost all of my colleagues who’ve seen it have done. However, I must be true to myself. The movie is available to watch right now, so feel free to make up your own mind. Fans of John Hawkes and/or Logan Lerman will definitely see some things worth praising. The whole package, unfortunately, just isn’t quite where I was hoping it would be. Maybe your mileage will vary? For me, this was simply a disappointment. Alas…
End of Sentence is out now.
(Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)