2015-05-08 07:00

What it's about:

Estranged from his family, Jonathan discovers his father has decided to take himself off life support in 48 hours. During this intensely condensed period, a lifetime of drama plays out. Robert fights a zero-sum game to reclaim all that his illness stole from his family. A debate rages on patients’ rights and what it truly means to be free. Jonathan reconciles with his father, reconnects with his mother, sister, and his love and reclaims his voice through two unlikely catalysts—a young, wise-beyond-her-years patient and a no-nonsense nurse. Through this intensely life-affirming prism, an unexpected and powerful journey of love, laughter, and forgiveness unfolds.

What we thought:

For the past week the landmark assisted suicide case of advocate Robin Stransham-Ford has been a big topic of discussion. It has certainly opened up the debate to die with dignity.

This is the central theme of the movie Lullaby.

Robert (Richard Jenkins) has decided to end his 12 year battle with cancer. In hours he will be unplugged from life support. He has summoned his wife Rachel (Anne Archer), estranged son Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund) and doting daughter Karen (Jessica Brown Findlay) to say their goodbyes. And as can be expected a whole lot of family drama goes down.

From the moment you meet Jonathan, the main character, you can’t help but dislike him. He’s a self-centred, 26-year-old struggling musician with a “poor little rich kid” demeanour. He can’t deal with his father’s situation. Through flashbacks we learn that he bailed on his family when he couldn’t deal with his father’s sickness anymore. But he was still accepting a monthly allowance from his father as he tries to make a career in music. As a leading man Hedlund’s portrayal leaves much to be desired. It’s hard to feel any type of sympathy for his character.

There’s some sibling rivalry between him and his younger sister Karen, a law student from Yale. She has never forgiven him for leaving the family. She’s another self-entitled, daddy’s girl. She even goes so far as to file an injunction to stop her father from having the plug pulled. To defend her actions she presents an argument to her father to encourage him to keep on fighting. How selfish!

Devoted wife Rachel has stuck by Robert throughout his illness. However, after being by his sickbed for twelve years she does not know how she will return to normal life. She sort of disappears into the background as the focus is mainly on the children.

While one does feel some sympathy for Robert you can’t help but blame him for the spoilt brats his children have become. He shocks them when he reveals that they will get no inheritance.

To help Jonathan’s character develop there are two subplots that attempt to make him more human. He “accidently” meets up with an old girlfriend Emily  (Amy Adams) who he has unfinished business with.
He also befriends cancer stricken teen Meredith (Jessica Barden) who manages to break through his hard exterior.

Somewhat random castings are Terrence Howard, who is Robert’s compassionate physician, and Jennifer Hudson, who plays a no-nonsense, somewhat crass nurse.

The film plays off in a single day and there is just way too many things going done in the imagined timespan. You know how in soapies a day almost lasts for a month? This is how it felt. While the intentions of the movie seemed to be good it just doesn’t hit the right notes. Honestly, you just really want Robert’s suffering to end and be rid of his self-concerned children. The best part of the movie is at the end when Hedlund sings a very moving song.

Like its title suggests this movie will definitely put you to sleep. Rather wait for the DVD or its run on DStv.

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