End of Sentence (
Directed by Elfar Adalsteins
Starring John Hawkes, Logan Lerman, SarahBolger
The Dark Divide (
Directed by Tom Putnam
Starring David Cross, Debra Messing)
On his release from prison Sean Fogle (Lerman) is met by his estranged father Frank (Hawkes) and is asked if he would accompany him to fulfil the final wish of his recently departed mother and scatter her ashes on a lake in her native Ireland. The younger Fogle’s reluctance to accompany his father stems from an incident in their past that nags away throughout this charming and surprisingly funny road movie framing the slim narrative with the weight of familial guilt, cowardice and retribution.
Perhaps the greatest character actor of his generation, Hawkes’ turn as the world weary but ever hopeful Frank is another masterclass. One moment where a revelation about his wife’s past threatens to rend an emotional schism is as brilliantly realised as Charlotte Rampling’s similar beat in 45 Years.
Hawkes must be a dream to act with, he’s a generous performer always engaged, never showy and allows his fellow performers space to work. And Lerman, who is probably best known for playing Percy Jackson in the fantasy film series, is great as the brooding, resentful son. Sarah Bolger does her best as the rather underwritten character Jewel whose placement as “plot device” overshadows a lot of her good work.
Other than one scene where Bolger’s character performs a version of ‘Dirty Old Town’ in a pub that plays like something from an advert by the 1980s Irish Tourist Board, first time director Adalsteins uses the Irish locations effectively without slipping into patronising postcard views or cliché.
Another kind of road movie and with a similar narrative trigger of obligation to a deceased partner is The Dark Divide. Written and directed by Tom Putnam and based on the true story of butterfly expert Robert M. Pyle’s solo trek across one of the USA’s largest wildernesses the film follows David Cross as Pyle as he goes in search of rare lepidoptera (and possibly Bigfoot). Other than flashbacks to his life with his wife Thea (Messing) this is mostly a solo show from Cross as the lovable, if at times infuriatingly pompous, biologist struggles to find his path both literally and metaphorically. Cross is fully committed to a role that finds his character frequently bitten, buzzed and beaten including being harassed by bears and trail bikers and lost in the depths of a cavern in only his underpants. There are some fine gags and physical comedy and no shortage of drama and high emotion.
It’s a beautifully realised meditation on loss and grief, a film about finding our place in the world. Of what’s known and what’s imagined and how both can be equally important. There’s a neat cinematic touch that plays out a couple of times with a slow 360 degree pan that shows up how alone and insignificant we can be in the natural environment but how vital we remain when we keep our hearts and minds open.
End of Sentence is available on digital download from Blue Finch Film Releasing from May 10th.
The Dark Divide is available on streaming platforms from May 21.