The tension between father and son in this film is palpable. We don’t learn why until deep into the film. But this is not a film about one thing; it is about many little or bigger than little things. All the things which add up to something larger. Larger yet not noisy or bold. Much of what happens here is filled with emotion yet kept rather quiet.
Tricky ask of director and actors. Director Elfar Adalsteins (first feature film) keeps an even hand over what goes on here. Not too heavy. Letting his actors bring life to their characters, but certainly knows how to effectively give the space the story needs to express itself fully. As for the two lead actors, John Hawkes and Logan Lerman, both are portraying characters with differing varieties of pain – one repressed with the other having it always simmering just under the surface on the ready to boil over.
A set of parents go and visit their young son in an Alabama prison. Mother Anna (Andrea Irvine – Evelyn, Ella Enchanted) tells her son that she is dying. That she does not have much time left. As for the father Frank (John Hawkes – The Sessions, Winter’s Bone), the tension, even in this short sample time, between him and his son Sean (Logan Lerman – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fury) is obvious.
As Sean is released from prison shortly afterwards, his mother has already passed away. John is there to meet him, but Sean has no interest in engaging in a dialogue with his father or even taking a lift from him. Sean has plans to get to California is short order to get a job.
John tries to convey to Sean that Anna wanted them to do something together with her ashes. Again, Sean is not interested in anything to do with his father. He does have to give in when it becomes apparent that he will not get to California without help from his father. John offers Sean a deal. He will pay for a plane ticket to California if Sean goes with him to Ireland to spread the ashes in a remote lake.
While at a family wake in Ireland, Sean’s attention is captured by a woman at the bar. He goes back later to meet Jewel (Sarah Bolger – In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles). She is hitchhiking away from an abusive boyfriend. The three set off together across Ireland and things happen that will either drive father and son further apart or bring them closer together.
A road trip involving two people who cannot stand each other is nothing new. What saves this film from being rather run of the mill is the two strong performances from the leads. They bring this rather strained relationship to life. The pain and frustration is bubbling just under the surface at all times.
Once again we get a film set in the stunning landscapes of Ireland. That country is just so picturesque and its beauty is seemingly easy to capture on film. Almost every picture made in this small island country sees the green, rolling hills becoming a character in their own right, if called upon.