VOD film review: End of Sentence
Bianca Garner | On 10, May 2021
Director: Elfar Adalsteins
Cast: John Hawkes, Logan Lerman, Sarah Bolger
Where to watch End of Sentence online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / CHILI
John Hawkes is the type of actor that you recognise on-screen and think to yourself “Is that the guy from…?” He has a familiar face and an impressive filmography, but he’s an actor who can slip into the shoes of any unusual, eccentric and interesting character when the script demands it. In Elfar Adalsteins’ first feature, End of Sentence, we see Hawkes almost unrecognisable in the role of Frank Fogle, a mild-mannered Mr Rogers-type whose fractured relationship with his son, Sean (Logan Lerman), forms the crux of the movie. Hawkes has the opportunity to become lost in the role, and delivers an excellent performance.
Frank is a widower, who reluctantly embarks on a journey to honour his wife’s (Andra Irrvine) last wish of spreading her ashes in a remote lake in her native Ireland and a promise of taking his estranged son, Sean, along for the trip. The father-son duo end up picking up a hitchhiker in the form of Jewel (Sarah Bolger), who has her own demons that she’s struggling with. There’s an instant attraction between Jewel and Sean, and Frank is reluctant to bring her along but he soon warms to her. Jewel being introduced works quite well as she acts as the viewer, asking questions and being an outsider. There’s a ticking countdown for Sean to get back to the States with the promise of a new job, which he is eager to get after being in jail for grand theft auto and facing the possibility that it may be next to impossible for him to live a straight life.
Written by Michael Armbruster (who also wrote the 2010 drama Beautiful Boy), End of Sentence explores the complexities of grief as well as inherited trauma between parents and their offspring. At certain points the narrative does fall into road movie cliches – we spend time trapped in the enclosed space of the rental car watching the characters talking, listening to the radio or staring out of the window. But Adalsteins manages to keep the story flowing without it ever stalling by allowing Hawkes and Lerman to do their work and bounce off each other. The enclosed space of the car acts like a pressure oven; as tensions and frustrations slowly build up, we inevitably reach a full-on confrontation. Some plot points and twists are familiar and the viewer can see them a mile off, but it doesn’t necessarily hinder the overall enjoyment of the film.
All three main characters are complex and well-developed. Sean is the total opposite of his meek, well-mannered father. However, as the story unfolds, both men begin to pick up each other’s character traits and evolve as they spend more time in each other’s company. Lerman is probably best known for his role in the Percy Jackson films, and it’s nice to see him try out his acting chops in a complex and demanding role. He has to show his vulnerability here as Sean, a troubled young man struggling with the loss of his mother and childhood trauma. He brings a lot of humour to the role as well, with some great comedic timing and delivery. Bolger is also an absolute delight to watch and has a beautiful scene where she sings in a crowded pub, which is a touching moment and adds another layer to her character. As Frank, Hawkes is perfectly cast. He holds the film together even in its weaker moments.
The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Karl Oskarsson, with some breathtaking aerial shots of the Irish landscape and some effective close-up moments that build drama and tension. Although the film lacks some elements of action, and the script feels a little weak in the second act, there’s definitely enough here in terms of performances and direction to keep the viewer entertained, and it’s hard not to be moved to tears by the powerful ending.
End of Sentence is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription. For the latest Sky TV packages and prices, click the button below.