Thus, it’s no surprise that the film is self-reflective, which brings us to its inevitable spoiler alert: Robert dies. But don’t we all. The heavy yet surprisingly droll film—what some unforgivable people might call a dramedy—forces viewers to confront mortality in a visceral way. But fatalism, turns out, doesn’t make Levitas squirm.
“I wanted to not shy away from anything and be as honest and real as possible,” he says. “Real life is dynamic enough—you don’t have to sugarcoat it. The reason why death seems so scary is that, rather than exploring it you mystify it, which makes it scarier.
“If the goal of art is to express yourself, you can’t fail. The medium isn’t what’s important; it just matches what you want to express. Sometimes people see it, and sometimes it ends up buried in a drawer somewhere—but you can’t fail.”
Though Lullaby is his first film he was able to snag his choice of an A-list cast—rising star Garrett Hedlund, five-time Academy Award-nominee Amy Adams, Richard Jenkins, and Anne Archer—perhaps in part because of his experimental approach.
“First, I’d hoped to write a novel, but I thought I hadn’t lived enough to really write a great one, so that didn’t make sense,” he explains. “I wanted to create a space for people to immerse themselves in an experience and be fully present while ultimately taking something home. It really stemmed from wanting to figure out my own feelings about freedom, about not belonging to anyone and about doing what you choose. Since [the concept] is so complicated, it made sense to have this kind of conversation with different characters within the film.”
To punctuate his presence in this particular issue of Flaunt, Levitas leaves us with a remark on the ripple effect of turning the camera on oneself: “If one person sees my film and feels the need to reach out to and connect with [their] family, it was all worth it. I’ve done what I wanted to do.”
Photographer: Richard Gerst at richardgerst.com. Stylist: Joshua Liebman at Joshualiebman.com. Groomer: Helen Reavey for bryanbantry.com.