Road trip movies are usually pretty easy to decipher. You put a couple of people with different personalities or family disputes, put them in a car and by the time they reach their destination, a mutual experience has changed them, usually for the good. Director Elfar Adalsteins film, End of Sentence, is no different but he’s helped with a trio of wonderful performances and Karl Oskarsson’s Irish countryside cinematography.
When Anna (Andrea Irvine) dies after a long battle with cancer, her husband Frank (John Hawkes) discovers that her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a remote lake in her native Ireland. He tells their son Sean (Logan Lerman), who’s just been released from prison, who quickly balks at the idea. Going to Ireland with his father is the last thing he wants to do. The pair have a rocky relationship and he wants to get as far away from him as possible. After a bit of convincing, the two head off to Ireland to fulfill Anna’s wish.
Along the way, they meet up with Jewel (Sarah Bolger), a young woman who’s got plenty of issues of her own. She hitches a ride with the two and though you wouldn’t know it first, she’s the catalyst that finally brings them together.
There’s a lot of twists and turns that happen – all credit to screenwriter Michael Armbruster – and you never really know where they’re going to take you. Those turns feel more plausible thanks to Hawkes, just excellent in everything he’s in, who delivers another fantastic performance. Frank is quiet and reserved and you feel sorry for him from most of the film. Did he become the family doormat willingly or was it emotional beat down after emotional beat down that caused him to lay low and have life just happen to him?
He and Lerman make a mighty fine pair. Sean is always on guard and seemingly ready to pounce, ready for another F You from life at any moment. Every time Lerman speaks, he feels like he wants to say 15 other things but what is actually coming out of his mouth is his attempt at restraint. And Bolger as the shady Jewel adds a nice balance to them both.
You might wish the ending was a bit more satisfying – specifically how they get to and find Anna’s final destination – but like most things, it’s all about the journey there, and it’s definitely one that is worthwhile.