Dir: Elfar Adalsteins. Starring: John Hawkes, Logan Lerman, Sarah Bolger. 15, 96 mins
Families are torn apart more often by what isn’t said, rather than what is. And in End of Sentence, the feature debut of Icelandic filmmaker Elfar Adalsteins, the silence is deafening. Frank (John Hawkes) takes his wife Anna (Andrea Irvine), who’s dying of cancer, to visit their son Sean (Logan Lerman) in prison and say a few final goodbyes. But Frank never steps inside. He lingers on the threshold, carefully practising a normality that only makes sense to him. The guards are flummoxed.
Six months pass by and Anna is gone. She leaves only her ashes and a dying wish that the men in her family would, together, travel to her homeland in Ireland and scatter her among its crystal waters. End of Sentence sets itself on such a familiar path that the entire film seems hinged on the expectation that these two men will set aside their differences by journey’s end. And while Michael Armbruster’s script is both delicately written and magnificently acted by its cast, it’s always at its weakest when is treats this conclusion as an inevitability. Frank and Sean are never forced into the kind of long and messy confrontations that feel akin to emotional blood-letting: agonising to experience, yet cathartic in hindsight.
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