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Originally published Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 3:06 PM

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‘Lullaby’: Family relationships play out in end-of-life tale

A two-star movie review of “Lullaby”: The directorial debut of visual artist Andrew Levitas is an end-of-life drama somewhat sabotaged by difficult characters and distracting subplots. Garrett Hedlund and Richard Jenkins star.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★★  

‘Lullaby,’ with Garrett Hedlund, Richard Jenkins, Amy Adams, Jessica Brown Findlay, Anne Archer, Jessica Barden. Written and directed by Andrew Levitas. 117 minutes. Rated R for language and drug use. Sundance Cinemas.

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A tortured weepie that can’t quite figure out what sort of movie it is, “Lullaby” wears out its welcome fairly quickly.

It doesn’t help that this end-of-life story’s central character — a prickly, brooding musician named Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund) — is a jerk much of the time. While his dying father, Robert (Richard Jenkins), is convulsing with agony in a hospital bed, Jonathan’s response is “I can’t handle this.”

In time, we learn the truth behind Jonathan’s self-centered behavior. Robert has been living with terminal cancer for 12 years, a grim reality that sucked the vitality out of his family. Jonathan escaped to find a different life in music. His mother (Anne Archer) and sister (Jessica Brown Findlay) made their own accommodations.

“Lullaby,” the directorial debut of visual artist Andrew Levitas, works best as a chamber drama about damaged, primal relationships. Its most successful scenes are set in tight hospital spaces, where confessions and confrontations play out with hints of humor but otherwise no distractions.

Unfortunately, Levitas hedges his bets with a couple of distracting subplots involving a dying teen (Jessica Barden) and Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend (Amy Adams). Scenes involving the latter are particularly weird as they all take place on sidewalks, as if Adams’ character has nowhere else to be.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com



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