The Last Lullaby is a rare Hollywood mystery starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander. Director, Jeffrey Goodman debuts with a film noir story that dabbles in the realm of drama, romance, mystery and thriller. Peter Biegen and Max Collins (Road to Perdition) concoct a script based on a short story for The Last Lullaby, which takes an atmospheric, cold, pensive and realistic bite out of Hollywood.
At its best, The Last Lullaby conjures up flashbacks to The Professional and The Assassination of Jesse James. The Professional is echoed in the mood of the film, the story's arc, the complex character of Price and Tom Sizemore's numb and distant portrayal. This is one of his better performances as a lead, grasping the loneliness, insomnia and emptiness of his existence, while reaching out for something more in life. The Assassination of Jesse James was cold, lyrical and broke ties with the Hollywood Western. The Last Lullaby parallels these features and bends genre-specific rules with a purposefully slow-moving and contemplative piece.
At its worst, the film is reminiscent of The Lookout and Killshot with its cold, hard and pressing tone and atmosphere. The fresh artistic angle, solid lead and snowbound community of crime and romance parallel elements of The Lookout. Then, however, the Last Lullaby loses some momentum after the grand reveal and the sense of mystery slowly fades away as a dynamic resembling Killshot comes into play. While the bouts of violence are infrequent, short, sharp bursts of death, inflicted with cold, calculated efficiency like Liam Neeson in Taken.
Sizemore embodies equal parts of Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke and Jean Reno with his tender, yet brutal depiction of Price. Sasha Alexander (Yes Man) stars opposite Sizemore, and really captures the essence of Sarah... another lonely soul, tormented by her past and intent on filling the void. The two immediately share a connection and evoke a real feeling of history as they interact on screen. The mystery of Price's background filters into the mysterious circumstances the vulnerable character of Sarah finds herself in. The drama is bolstered by Price's mission as he waits for the right moment, while the guise of mystery carries suspense until the veil is lifted and lines are drawn.
The direction is crisp and holds a quality that makes it seem like an unaltered stream of consciousness. The editing and pacing are slowed down and close-up shots suspend a loping reality. The Last Lullaby is movie art, which can be appreciated from an entertainment or artistic perspective. The budgetary constraints limit the scope of this independent film. However, the use of real locations, gritty action sequences and a cold atmosphere conceal any blemishes. The Last Lullaby challenges Hollywood conventions and seeks to find a median between Hollywood and European cinema.
Goodman doesn't spoon feed or patronize his audience, making the experience more intellectually stimulating. The closing scene leaves the audience with a thought-provoking yet abrupt ending, which will frustrate some and leave others aching for more... The Last Lullaby is obviously not for everyone, however it creates a niche for itself and emits quality until it closes on Alexander and the look is priceless.
The bottom line: Complex.