Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: "The Last Lullaby"

The following entry is cross posted from InvadeNola:

Ever find yourself digging through the discount DVD bin at Wal Mart in the middle of the night? You’re not really looking to buy something, and you’re really not looking for anything in particular – you’re just trying to fill the time. For some, a wide eyed walk around the local store is all that’s needed to burn that last bit of energy. For others…

The Last LullabyThe Last Lullaby is a story lead by two such people; two restless souls, troubled by sleepless nights and haunted pasts. When their paths inevitably cross, they will have to work together, not only to resolve their more immediate problem, but to ultimately get a good night’s sleep.

We are first introduced to our male lead, a nameless ex hitman who goes by whatever alias He can think of. Played by Tom Sizemore, Jack (his primary alias) lives a fairly comfortable life, but does so uncomfortably. Weathered and restless, Jack visits a convenience store where, by chance, He overhears a kidnapping plot. Out of sheer boredom, He rescues a woman, only to demand a ransom for her safe return. While He handles this situation with the expertise you’d expect, He seems to be going through the motions; punching a thug in the face is just like going to the store or watching Nick at Nite for this guy.

Months later, He is contacted by the woman’s father to perform a job; to eliminate a witness. He hesitantly accepts, and proceeds to go about his former routine. This is where He meets (well, observes) his target Sarah, played by Sasha Alexander. Probably breaking a golden rule, Jack makes his presence known to her, only to end up striking an immediate relationship.

Just as restless as Jack, Sarah also has an equally troubled past. Having witnessed the murder of her mother at a young age (the incident that has now made her a target), Sarah has been unable to sleep, or live, easy for years. Travelling from town to town, and picking up calm nerving habits like swimming or gun shooting, She has been unable to forget, and unable to, well, move on. In this way, she is Jack’s kindred spirit. Both need to drop their past, but have been unable to do so alone. Together, they will try again. Jack will protect Sarah from and eliminate for her the men who seek her silence, and Sarah will try to fill the void Jack has lived with for so long.

I first saw this movie a few years ago at the Prytania Theatre during the New Orleans Film Festival. It impressed me then, and impresses me now. For starters, the film has a very nice mood to it. Despite the loud gunshots and occasional blood, I found things to be relatively calm (exactly what Jack and Sarah are wanting). From the musical score, to the lighting/color scheme, to the use of quiet environments like small towns, swimming pools and empty roads, the film just has an all around soothing tone.

The casting/acting of Tom Sizemore is equally noteworthy. Seen mostly in direct to dvd titles in the last decade (including a short stint in self made porn), as well as being in and out of trouble with the law, Tom’s performance is a sort of reflection of his real life. Similar to Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” and “Kill Shot”, the role of Jack – a weathered, lonely, tired yet sleepless assassin – was meant for an actor that not only looks like He’s lived a rough life, but has the experiences/memories to back it up. The way He walks, the way He talks, and the way He stares at you all tell a story on their own. Letting Tom play Jack is like giving a baseball to Nolan Ryan – Tom nailed it.

Filmed in Shreveport by hometown filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman, “The Last Lullaby” ought to be added to your Netflix queue as soon as possible. With a movie as surprisingly good as this, you have every reason to stay in bed. No need making that 2AM trip to Walgreens, as you can always buy an extra gallon of milk later. 
4/5 *'s

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