End of Sentence is a hearty indie drama set around a family road trip across Ireland, that originally premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2019. While the plot might not be particularly unique, the strength of this film is in the performances.
The film opens on Sean Fogel (Logan Lerman), currently serving time in an Alabama prison for car theft. He’s visited by his estranged father Frank (John Hawkes) and mother Anna (Andrea Irvine), who’s dying from terminal cancer and visiting Sean to say goodbye. Six months later, Anna is dead and Sean is released from prison, where Frank is waiting for him to help fulfil his mother’s dying wish; to have her ashes scattered in a lake in her homeland of Ireland. Intent on starting a new life in California, Sean initially refuses however after realising California isn’t as easy to reach as he’d hoped, agrees to travel to Ireland with his father in exchange for a return plane ticket to the west coast.
Unsurprisingly the family trip doesn’t go as either father or son planned. On route to the north of Ireland, they attend a wake with distant Irish relatives who reveal Anna’s hidden past, encounter a mysterious young woman named Jewel (Sarah Bolger) and have some trouble with rental cars, all while unearthing a troubled family past.
End of Sentence is not the type of film where the ending or destination particularly matters, as it’s evident from the trailer how this one will turn out. What is important, however, both literally and figuratively in this film, is the journey the characters take to get there. And in his debut feature, director Elgar Adalsteins has created a rather beautiful journey, packed full of picturesque Irish scenery that never becomes clichéd or too in your face. It’s a stunning looking film and feels incredibly real to watch, especially when accompanied by such an appropriate and heartwarming soundtrack.
However, this film belongs entirely to John Hawkes and Logan Lerman. John Hawkes is well known for his stellar yet unassuming performances, and this is yet another he can add to his CV. His turn as the mild-mannered, quiet, kind Frank is incredibly subtle and Hawkes easily portrays Frank’s feelings and emotions, often without words. And in complete contrast, you have Logan Lerman as Sean, a confident, cocky, loudmouth who after initially appearing to be an arrogant bully, is revealed to have an incredibly heartbreaking past that is expertly portrayed. Lerman has shown his ability to shine in a rather understated role. It’s these two performances, alongside excellent support from Sarah Bolger and a smart, well-written script that make this journey so watchable, especially as we see each character develop as the story progresses.
It’s a shame then that the story is both a tad predictable, and also has a few rather farcical scenes that seem completely out of place for the tone of the rest of the film. Fortunately, the strength of the performances, the short run time and the stunning cinematography help boost the somewhat conventional plot into something that is very enjoyable and well worth watching.
End of Sentence is on digital download 10 May from Blue Finch Film Releasing
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!