Saturday movie review: 'Lullaby'

The movie LULLABY stars actors I love in a story that, though memorable, is not all that original. Yet despite some sour notes, the tearjerker worked for me.

Lullaby dvd

LULLABY stars Richard Jenkins (love him!) as Robert, a patriarch dying of lung cancer, courtesy years of smoking. His wife and adult children must deal with Robert's decision to, in less than 48 hours, unplug the machines keeping him alive. Coming together aside Robert's hospital bed are his wife, Rachel, played by Anne Archer (love!); his daughter, Karen, played by Jessica Brown Findlay from Downton Abbey (love!); and — most prominently as the story primarily revolves him — his estranged, bad-boy son, Jonathan, played by Garrett Hedlund (with whom I'm unfamiliar but kinda sorta love, too, in part because his singing reminds me of Cat Stevens).

Other stars of LULLABY — all of whom I love, all in small roles here — include Amy Adams as Emily, Jonathan's former love interest; Terrance Howard as his doctor; and Jennifer Hudson as brash Nurse Carrie. Plus, there's Jessica Barden who portrays cancer-stricken 17-year-old Meredith with humor, depth and wisdom.


Considering the accomplished ensemble cast, the drama should rank up there with top-notch tales of families coping with death and dying. Yet the clichés are many, the story is rather predictable, and the manner in which Karen (Brown Findlay) rails against Dad's choice to let go irked me a bit. The irksomeness was in that it seemed to me such debate would have been moot as Dad would have — as most hospitals require —advance directives on such. Though, I suppose I can agree with my husband's assessment that it wasn't a plot hole, simply Karen's way of coping.

Despite those misgivings, so many of the scenes moved us — some comedic, some crushing — that my husband and I were compelled to continue watching. We never regretted doing so and ultimately decided we really liked LULLABY.

I imagine those who have lost a loved one in such a manner or who have had to make life-support decisions might find LULLABY difficult to watch. Those who don't like tear-jerkers should steer clear, too, as this film successfully jerks tears. But those who love the cast as much as I do and who aren't averse to mulling over right-to-die issues may appreciate the film... perhaps even really like it, as my husband and I did.

As I mentioned above — and you heard bits of in the trailer — Garrett Hedlund sounds, to me, much like Cat Stevens as he sings "Fall Apart." It's possibly my favorite scene in the film.

LULLABY (rated R) was released in theaters in June and is now available on DVD.

Today's question:

What's your favorite tear-jerking film?