Film Review: BOUNDARIES (USA/Canada 2017) ***1/2

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Laura and her son Henry are forced to drive her estranged, pot-dealing, carefree father Jack across country after being kicked out of a nursing home.


Shana Feste


Shana Feste


BOUNDARIES is a film about breaking boundaries, not creating or keeping them.  When the film starts, Laura (Vera Farmiga) talks to her therapist about the boundary she had created with her estranged father, Jack (Christopher Plummer).  Jack has telephoned but Laura has refused to pick up.  But she eventually makes contact with him.

BOUNDARIES is a feature by writer/director Shana Feste who has made 5 or so features including THE GREATEST and COUNTRY SONG.  BOUNDARIES caters to the commercial moviegoer, hitting all the right buttons at the correct times  For the more critical filmgoer, critics included, all that transpires might be all too much.  BOUNDARIES has so far received very mixed reviews.  Hate it or love it!

Laura (Farmiga) is a single mother who lives with her son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) and a slew of stray animals she’s rescued.  When Henry is expelled from school for drawing the principal nude and her estranged father Jack (Plummer) is booted from his senior home, Laura makes a deal.  She agrees to drive Jack from Seattle to LA, where her sister (Kristen Schaal) 

has reluctantly agreed to take him in.  In return, Jack promises to pay for Henry to attend a private school, where his creativity can be nourished.

Expect lots of theatrics that will involve lots of tears and laughter.

So, Laura, Jack, Henry and a few of the furry strays head off, with Jack insisting they stop along the way to visit a Buddhist camp, a couple of old pals (Christopher Lloyd et al.) and even Laura’s feckless ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale).  Little does Laura know that Jack is selling weed from the $200,000 stash in his trunk, having a last bit of fun before the drug becomes legal.  Still oozing charisma at age 85, Jack has also cajoled Henry into helping him.

Despite its predictable Hollywood happy ending, Feste takes her audience for a ride with some good dialogue and good performances from her actors.

Christopher Plummer is quite hilarious.

Vera Farmiga is also quite hilarious

Teen actor Lewis MacDougall not only hilarious but dramatic, emotional and winning,

Of the supporting cast. Peter Fonda does what is expected as the film deals with weed.  But it is Bobby Cannavale steals the show as Laura’s ex, a real a-hole.  The films most dramatic and powerful scene involves him and Farminga, who also proves her acting mettle.

Feste’s script could be improved on the way it manipulates audiences.  But to her credit this manipulative script contains choice lines like:

“I’m so fucked up, I can’t even tell my therapist how fucked up I am.”

“I’m desperate.  Don’t tell me things are going to get better.”

“My family is awful, But they cannot help it.”

The film can also be described as an edgy family road movie.  The film includes an appropriate road movie soundtrack, pleasant to listen to especially on the road.

Director Feste admits that the film is an unabashedly autobiographical portrait of her own charming grifter dad, who was in and out of her life during her early childhood and then 

moved in with her when he became ill.  Her father (who recently passed away) has a cameo in the film as the construction guy who cops weed from Jack.


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