(director: Elfar Adelsteins; screenwriter: Michael Ambruster; cinematographer: Karl Oskarsson; editor: Kristján Loðmfjörð; music: Petur Benediktsson; cast: John Hawkes (Frank Fogle), Logan Lerman (Sean Fogle), Sarah Bolger (Jewel), Andrea Irvine (Anna Fogle),  Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Officer Stone), Sean Mahon (Andrew), David Grant Wright (Mr. Modine); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Elfar Adalsteins, Joni Sighvatsson, David Collins; Berserk Films/Gravitas Ventures; 2019-Iceland/Ireland/USA)

A low-key family themed drama that’s bittersweet and sometimes funny.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-key family themed drama that’s bittersweet and sometimes funny. It’s always well-acted by John Hawkes and Logan Lerman, as a feuding widowed father and his estranged son reunite on a road trip.

First-time feature film director and former producer, the Icelandic Elfar Adelsteins, finds insights that touch the nerves in a damaged father-son relationship. Writer Michael Ambruster digs deeply into the characters and lets us see for ourselves what burns inside these totally opposite personalities.

A sullen, cynical, sharp-talking and assertive twentysomething car thief Sean Fogle (Logan Lerman) is just released from an Alabama prison. His mom (Andrea Irvine), living in the States for a long time, just passed away from cancer and requests that her husband, the soft spoken, introverted and quiet Frank Fogle (John Hawkes), take their son to her Ireland birthplace to scatter her ashes at a favorite lake near Dublin. Frank agrees, as he greets the reluctant Sean as he’s released from prison in Alabama. But Sean wants to go to California and start over with a new job. After mulling it over and trying put it aside how much he detests his passive dad, he agrees to honor mom’s wishes and is satisfied dad will at the end of the trip give him an airplane ticket to California. 

In a Dublin pub, the awkward duo argue over whose fault it is they never got along. They meet with Anna’s friendly and gabby relatives and childhood friends in a pub. During the course of the evening, with some heavy drinking, a jealous Frank is surprised to hear stories of his staid wife’s wild adventures in the past. Sean meanwhile finds a love interest in the bar patron Jewel (Sarah Bolger), a fast lady with a dark past, a good singing voice and a shady present. The lad picks her up and gets the willing lass to join him on the urn journey despite dad’s reluctance.

It’s a good decision by the filmmaker to bring her along for the ride even if she’s a sketchy character and her backstory is not that developed, but she lifts the film out of its formulaic doldrums and gives it a refreshing new life.

Cinematographer Karl Oskarsson beautifully fills the screen with the lush Irish countryside, while the lively traditional Irish music convinces us that we’ve left Alabama and we’re indeed in Ireland.
eos_day24_0074.dngREVIEWED ON 6/2/2020