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.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org