Lullaby has lots of problems. For one thing, it can’t get a handle on the comedy in it, though it’s most certainly a drama. Even fans of gallows humor will see a few botched light moments that are cruel when they’re supposed to ease the emotional tension.

For another, there are a couple subplots that come out of nowhere and should stay there. Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund) bumps into his old girlfriend Emily (Amy Adams) in a contrived moment, and he takes a 17-year-old girl with terminal cancer to a fake prom.

All these things happen because Jonathan is in town after many years away to visit his dying father (Richard Jenkins, wonderful as always). A chronic fuck-up, Jonathan has burned bridges with his sister Karen (Jessica Brown Findlay), and to a lesser degree, his mother (Anne Archer).

But this will be the family visit to end all family visits, literally, as Dad has decided that after battling cancer for 12 years he’s going to be disconnected from the machines keeping him alive. Anger rages, tears flow, wounds are healed. Sort of.

Hedlund makes a compelling repentant jerk, and the movie’s theme—the right to die—is a good one. Despite its miscues, Lullaby will have you reaching for the Kleenex.


Directed by Andrew Levitas

With Hedlund, Jenkins and Archer

CCA Cinematheque


117 min.