Rarely has the terminal seemed as interminable as it does in Lullaby, writer-director Andrew Levitas’s tedious saga of a family reuniting at the deathbed of their paterfamilias.
With business bigwig Robert (Richard Jenkins) intent on pulling his own plug after a 12-year battle with cancer, his estranged son, Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund), who long ago abandoned his clan to pursue a music career on the West Coast, returns to New York, where he acts out like a spoiled brat mostly interested in Dad’s decision to give away his fortune.
Also upset are quietly moping wife Rachel (Anne Archer) and angry daughter Karen (Jessica Brown Findlay), who files a legal injunction to stop Robert from killing himself.
A quartet of unbearable types whose sheer unpleasantness makes even their suffering hard to sympathize with, they’re joined in this protracted drama by Jennifer Hudson as a sassy nurse, Terrence Howard as a featureless doctor, Jessica Barden as a teenage cancer patient who shares cigarettes with Jonathan (and, eventually, a faux-prom night dance and kiss), and, in a pointless supporting role that feels like she accidentally wandered on set, Amy Adams as Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend.
Memories are shared, grievances are aired, regrets are expressed, and apologies are made, though like Hedlund’s singing, this maudlin film’s portrait of mortality and grief is egregiously off-key.