John Hawkes and Logan Lerman play against type in the father-son drama “End of Sentence” from Icelandic filmmaker Elfar Adalsteins.
Set in the beautiful Irish countryside, Hawkes plays recently widowed Frank Fogle, a meek and gentle soul who is on a journey to fulfill his wife’s dying wish, to spread her ashes in a remote lake in her native country.
Joining him is estranged son Sean (Lerman) who’s just been released from an Alabama prison for stealing cars. Along the way, the road trip film unveils scars of abuse and a secretive past, with Sarah Bolger on board as a shady hitcher who charms both men.
Despite the weighty storyline, there are moments of levity that lighten the drama as the father-son duo bicker along the way while getting themselves into some unpredictable situations. Sean needs to be in California in a few days for a job offer so he reluctantly accepts a ride from his dad, the two haven’t spoken to each other in years.
But first, he must take a quick detour through Ireland at the request of his late mother (Andrea Irvine) to accompany Frank on a mission to spread her ashes over a lake located near Dublin.
Lerman is usually cast as the quiet, supportive character so he’s breaking the mold as tatted-up Sean whose nasty disposition comes from years of built-up resentment towards his father. Life behind bars has only hardened the 20ish son who has scars from abusive suffered under the hands of his grandfather.
He blames Frank for never doing anything to end the cycle of abuse, but the pain lies deeper for Frank who despite his frail character is actually the strongest figure in Adalsteins' debut film.
There are beautiful shots of the Irish countryside as the two men, armed with an urn, travel the land in a rental car in search of the lake. They meet Jewel (Sarah Bolger) at a pub who is also running from her past and an abusive ex-boyfriend. She hitches a ride with Frank and Sean which helps to lighten the tone.
Bolger recently delivered a knockout performance in the bloody drama “A Good Woman is Hard to Find.” The Irish actress balances “End of Sentence” with a playful performance that spells trouble from the beginning. The audience sees that but Sean and then Frank get taken away by her charm which leads to problems down the road.
There are moments of comedy and a very emotional moment for Frank who after years of being there for his wife and son finally reaches his breaking point in the parking lot of a restaurant.
Hawkes and Lerman are excellent as the two actors show different sides of themselves, playing against type to deliver a message of hope, survival, and reconnection.
I spoke with John Hawkes about the film and his performance which is very different from the roles we are used to seeing him in. The Oscar-nominated actor and former Austin Texas resident discussed his lack of formal training, visiting Ireland for the first time, and what drew him to Elfar Adalsteins' debut feature.
Part One: Hawkes talks about what drew him to the role
Part Two: Hawkes talks about shooting the film in Ireland
Part Three: Hawkes talks about getting emotional for a scene
Part Four: Hawkes talks about the film’s message
'End of Sentence' is available now VOD on all digital platforms