Life & Culture

Film review: End of Sentence

Two great performances lift this road trip tale



I first came across Icelandic director Elfar Adalsteins’s debut feature End of Sentence in 2019 as part of the Edinburgh Film Festival official programme. Two years and a global pandemic later, this heartfelt road movie is finally being released digitally this week and not a second too soon. Featuring two stunning performances from John Hawkes (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Logan Lerman (Indignation), this family drama feels both familiar and charmingly uneven.

After losing his wife to cancer, taciturn widower Frank Fogle (Hawkes) hopes to embark on a journey to honour her dying wish by reuniting with his estranged ex con son Sean (Lerman), and scattering her ashes in her native Ireland. As Sean steps out of prison, he initially refuses his father’s offer, but is eventually persuaded when his own plans for a new start fall apart. The trip soon becomes more than a simple father/son bonding exercise when after landing in Ireland, the duo pick up Jewel (Sarah Bolger), a pretty hitchhiker with a troubled past.

Adalsteins and writer Michael Armbruster (Beautiful Boy) present a semi comedic romp which while not being exactly original, still manages to offer a heartfelt study in family dynamics. Tonally, the film vacillates oddly between wanting to be a complex character study and a chaotic road movie which culminates in a bafflingly ill-judged car-chase in its third act.

Still, the performances are genuinely impressive, with Hawke convincing as the quiet man on a mission, while Lerman gives a heartfelt turn as the angry young man who soon learns that blood runs deeper than water.

Overall, End of Sentence awkwardly mixes road movie tropes with stripped down soul-searching drama, but there is still a lot here to enjoy, even if it’s a reworking of things we have seen before.

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