END OF SENTENCE movie poster | ©2020 Gravitas Ventures

END OF SENTENCE movie poster | ©2020 Gravitas Ventures

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: John Hawkes, Logan Lerman, Sarah Bolger, Andrea Irvine
Writer: Michael Armbruster
Director: Elfar Adalsteins
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: May 29, 2020

END OF SENTENCE is a gentle-feeling, quiet dramedy that’s mostly about family dynamics. Anna Fogle (Andrea Irvine) is dying of cancer when we meet her. She’s the one common bond between her husband Frank (John Hawkes) and their son Sean (Logan Lerman), who is doing time in an Alabama jail for car theft.

Anna has passed by the time Sean is released. He doesn’t want anything to do with his father. However, Anna’s last wish was that Frank and Sean, together, would take her ashes back to her native Ireland and scatter them in a lake that she loved. She also has a house in Ireland that she’s left to Sean, so he grumpily agrees to the journey.

In Dublin, Frank and Sean meet up with Anna’s Irish relatives. Frank hears a tiny bit of Anna’s history, but it’s enough to send him into a tailspin. Sean meets the beautiful Jewel (Sarah Bolger) at the hotel bar. Jewel is fleeing an abusive boyfriend, she’s gorgeous, accommodating, and wants a ride north. Despite Frank’s misgivings, she joins the pair. Locating the lake turns out to be only one of many dilemmas.

For the most part, writer Michael Armbruster and director Elfar Adalsteins are graceful on the tightrope they’ve set up between humor and emotion. It at first seems that Sean is being unreasonably sulky with Frank, but we gradually learn that both son and father have righteous grievances with one another. Sean is impulsive and has a temper; Frank is so passive-aggressive as to be exasperating. Even so, we come to feel for both of them. We root for their reconciliation, and not only because that will make accompanying them easier for the audience as well as for the characters.

As for Jewel, she’s a charmer, adding some balance to the interpersonal dynamics. Bolger also has a lovely voice, revealed in a pub session. Hawkes is perfect, and Lerman is convincing.

There’s a pleasant travelogue aspect to END OF SENTENCE, which is especially welcome at present, when few people are seeing much of anything. Rolling green hills and peaceful lakes and warm-looking taverns all make the film visually appealing, as well as giving context to these people and their problems. Frank and Sean are both on unfamiliar turf, which keeps them both just nonplused enough to avoid all-out familial war.

END OF SENTENCE has an emotional temperature that should beckon those who want something that’s neither too heavy nor too silly. The film is on the slight side, but it’s consistent, wonderfully acted, and makes us feel like we’ve gotten out on the road for awhile.

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