“A Beginner’s Guide to Endings … ” starts well, ironically, but expires long before the home stretch. This relentlessly paced and mostly unfunny comedy — about three brothers who are told they’re dying and try to check off items on their bucket lists — has style to spare, as writer-director Jonathan Sobol splits, freezes and otherwise manipulates the frame at will. But the showy aesthetic proves wearying, and as the brothers, Scott Caan, Jason Jones and Paulo Costanzo are unmemorable. Harvey Keitel’s extended cameo appearance as the siblings’ dad gives the Canadian indie a patina of class that probably won’t be rewarded with widespread sales.
Somewhere around Niagara Falls, Duke (Keitel) fails to hang himself but later succeeds, figuring he’d rather perish than see any harm come to his kids. Zippy dialogue adds to the sense of a noirish farce on amphetamines, but Sobol’s pic is too speedy for its own good, failing to establish characters with adequate care. Caan’s Cal plans to marry a femme fatale; Costanzo’s pugilist prepares to step into the ring; Jones’ Elvis-impersonating bro buys a ’72 El Camino; and the viewer wishes for a quicker conclusion.