The Last Lullaby (2008) dir. Jeffrey Goodman
Starring: Tom Sizemore, Sasha Alexander
by Reece Crothers
Recently released on DVD I picked up a copy of this Tom Sizemore Hit-man drama because it's been a long time since I've seen anything good from the actor I used to have great artistic admiration for. From Tony Scott's "True Romance" in 1993 through Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down" in 2001, Sizemore had a run as one of the most thrilling character-actors working in American movies. Sandwiched between those Scott brothers films are stand-out performances in pictures like Natural Born Killers, Heat, Saving Private Ryan, and Bringing Out The Dead, to name a few.
Then Sizemore got addicted to methamphetamine, had eight hours of sex tapes surface on the internet, beat up his girlfriend - the famous Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss and, and by 2007, he had landed himself in jail. He had fucked up big, Robert Downey Jr big. But Sizemore, lacking the charm of his Natural Born Killers co-star, has had nowhere near the comeback Iron Man has. And it's not for a lack of trying. His imdb filmography since 2007 lists a staggering 40 credits (if you include his Celebrity Rehab and Shooting Sizemore reality TV appearances). Not one out of the 40 is in league with his 90s work. I was hoping this might be the hidden gem among a plethora of cheque-cashing appearances in forgetable pictures and a return to form for once-great, now-disgraced, artist.
Sizemore's performance in The Last Lullaby is interesting because it's a lead role and one in which he exercises a great deal of restraint. His face shows the wear and tear of a decade in oblivion. He seems humbled by it. Like a great ball player sent down to the minors, it's hard not to watch him play and get nostalgic for the old days, or to lament the wasted years, or to wonder about where he might be now without the meth, and domestic abuse, and porn, and reality TV. But there are hints at redemption in this modestly enjoyable picture. The wear and tear becomes a character actor after all.
So what about the movie itself? The story fits the actor well. A hitman who has been out of the game attempts a comeback, but is conflicted when he develops a personal relationship with his latest target. The DVD jacket claims that it the screenplay is from the co-writer of Road To Perdition, which is slightly misleading. It is co-written by the author of the graphic novel that Perdition is based on. Writing character and dialogue for film is an entirely different beast than writing for graphic novels, and the script for The Last Lullaby never would have attracted someone of Sam Mendes' calibre. The plot is well-worn and the story cliched, but the naturalistic approach and execution by the filmmakers, which focuses more on drama than action, provides many fine character moments for Sizemore, though the rest of the cast is pretty flat, especially his female lead Sasha Alexander. It's better than most direct to video features, but looks and feels like TV. And I don't mean HBO. It probably should be added to the list of titles that would have been better as a series pilot. It isn't quite that hidden gem I hoped it would be, but it suggests that one is possible. There is a glimmer of hope that his career is salvageable.
Aside from those 40 pictures, Tom is apparently attached to the long-gestating Fahrenheit 451 remake that Frank Darabont is developing. That could be the start of something beautiful, a return to working with the A-listers.