Review by Sean Boelman
Buoyed by the tremendous chemistry between its two leads, End of Sentence is a new road movie with a ton of emotional heft. And even though the arc of the film is pretty generic and predictable, the beats never fail to have an impact because they are written in a highly effective manner.
The movie follows a recently widowed man and his just-released ex-convict son as they set out on a trip across Ireland to honor the last wish of his wife. At its core, there’s a really interesting story here about facing grief and recovery at the same time, but that is buried beneath a distractingly lighthearted road movie structure.
A majority of the substance of the film comes in the first third, and that allows it to be the most interesting part of the story. After the narrative begins to find its footing and settles into its more conventional path, it loses a lot of its appeal. Eventually, it does take an unexpected turn, but it’s too little too late.
The foundations for something really profound are there in the script, but they aren’t always fully explored. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the movie involves one of the characters trying to bring himself back into society while also dealing with the loss of his mother. Yet more often than not, this is brushed off in favor of the father-son dynamic.
Unfortunately, the father character is comparatively far less interesting than his son. The grief arc that he has is compelling, but does very little to stand out from the plethora of other stories about the same topic. Still, there’s enough here to pique the viewer’s interest and keep it for the entirety of the runtime.
John Hawkes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) have great chemistry together and are a big part of what makes the film move forward. Hawkes in particular is impressive, playing a character that is outside of his regular forte, bringing a lot of humanity to the role.
On a technical level, the movie is pretty well-made. For a road movie, there’s not a lot of emphasis placed on the setting. That said, when the cinematography does take a look at the backgrounds of the shots, it’s pretty gorgeous. The score of the film is also quite good, accompanying the tone of the movie well.
End of Sentence isn’t anything extraordinary in a narrative sense, but it’s a very solid entry into the genre. It’s definitely worth watching, if only for the great performances by John Hawkes and Logan Lerman.
End of Sentence hits VOD on May 29.
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