It is never easy to face the death of a loved one, but the hurt and anguish felt is exponentially greater when that death is imminently forthcoming yet inevitable. Jonathan Lowenstein (Garrett Hedlund) is thrust headfirst into a torrent of emotions and regrets when he finds himself forced to deal with the wish of his dying father (Richard Jenkins) to be removed from life support. It has been years since Jonathan has been home, after running away to pursue rock star dreams, and his relations with his family mirror the complicated tatters the rest of his life has become. Suddenly, he has forty-eight hours to become the man that his father always knew he could be.
‘Lullaby’ is a thoughtful homecoming film that does not shy away from some of life’s most difficult issues, most notably Death and regret of a live not lived. While aspects of these very human concerns are certainly relatable, large swaths of the film and its plot are not. This does not hinder the story, which is consistently strong, but it does limit its effectiveness in maintaining the viewer’s attention. The characters are each given interesting personalities, as well as somewhat deep backstories, but in many instances the characters still feel shallow and impenetrable.
The question of assisted suicide and its moral foundations is dominant throughout the film. While this is a controversial issue, it is dealt with brilliantly, though sometimes a bit clumsily, by examining it through the range of emotions and reactions by each family member. It is this portion of the plot that leads to the most emotional and hard to watch scene of the film.
The entire cast gives great performances, but Hedlund and Jenkins standout. Amy Adams is good as Jonathan’s ex and missed opportunity, but she seems somewhat overcast for such a small part. Director Andrew Levitas employs a few questionable camera techniques, which instead of adding to the drama, tend to distract and draw attention away from the story itself.
‘Lullaby’ is not an uplifting film, but its takeaway is not sad either. It is an honest story about life and the twists and turns it takes.