Indie drama “End of Sentence” is one 2020’s most frustrating movies. And it has nothing to do with the central performances of lead actors John Hawkes and Logan Lerman.
They play father and son Frank and Sean Fogle. The mild-mannered Frank is outside the gates to greet the high-strung Sean when he’s released from an Alabama prison. Frank tells Sean that his mother (who recently passed away from cancer) had a dying wish: for the two of them to travel together to Ireland to spread her ashes on her favorite lake. Sean hates his father (for a reason we’ll learn later in the movie). He’s got a job lined-up in California and has no intention of going on this journey. But Frank talks him into it.
“End of Sentence” is variation of the classic a road/buddy picture (though these guys are anything but buddies). And there’s an urn with ashes along on the trip. We’ve seen this ‘polar opposites stuck together on a quest’ (where they unexpectedly learn things from and about each other) theme many times before. The concept is well-intentioned. It’s just that the roads taken to get these characters from Point A to Point B are very poorly constructed.
Writer Michael Armbruster fills the film with some of the most ridiculous story elements of the year. You’ll be tempted, more than once, to shout at whatever screen you’re watching “End of Sentence” on. The script simply plops the Hawkes & Lerman characters into different scenarios to see how they can get out of them. The actors, for the most part, are able to rise above the material (except for a low-blow fight scene). Sarah Bolger plays an Irish lass the duo encounter along the way. She also does her best with a slightly underdeveloped character.
Frank’s suspicions of his late wife’s “secret life” on the Emerald Isle does offer some intrigue and an opportunity to explore the meek man’s psyche. But the climax provides only a mild payoff. And tracing back all the steps the pair take to get to that point reveals some key structural deficiencies.
“End of Sentence” isn’t a bad film. But there isn’t one element that rises to a level above average. In the end, a lot of sentences in this script needed to be re-written.
LCJ GRADE: C
Running Time: 96 min.