• Andrew Levitas makes his screen writing and directing debut in this little film LULLABY and for a first time effort, despite all the rough unfinished edges of the canvas, he gives notice of a man with a fairly keen perception of the complex interrelationships of dysfunctional families.

    Jonathan Lowenstein (Garrett Hedlund) lives in Los Angeles attempting to become a singer of note and has been estranged from his wealthy New York family for years, always feeling as though he was unable to live up to his father's expectations. One day, he suddenly receives word that his terminally ill father Robert Lowenstein (Richard Jenkins) wishes to be taken off life support after a 12 year struggle with lung cancer and has 36 hours to live. When he agrees to visit his father, he unintentionally sets up a family conflict with no easy resolution. His mother (Annie Archer) has been caretaker of Robert and is happy to have the family reunited: Karen (Jessica Brown Findlay), the younger sister in law school, struggles with resentment for Jonathan, Jonathan detests the fact that he must observe the dying wishes of Robert (including setting up Seder when Jonathan has a history of disregarding his Jewish heritage), cope with Karen's acerbic flairs, deal with a stranger Meredith (Jessica Barden) who is 17 years old and dying of bone cancer who shares her needs with Jonathan and he with her, and re-encountering his lost love Emily (Amy Adams). Some of the best moments are provided by Jennifer Hudson as the potty mouth bitchy nurse, Terence Howard as the attending physician who is to aids Robert's 'assisted suicide', and Daniel Sunjata as a policeman who joins in the Seder. Though there are funny moments the story hangs on the subject of death and end of life situations, sharing the manner in which we evaluate our lives and our purposes in this life at that transformative moment of death of a loved one.

    Though falling frequently into the overplayed anger/grief/sobbing triad the actors are very fine and they make the film worth watching. Grady Harp, July 14