June 29th, 2018
STARRING: VERA FARMIGA; CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER; LEWIS MACDOUGALL
DIRECTED BY: SHANA FESTE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
If I didn’t tell you that Boundaries was a true story, you wouldn’t believe it. The entire time, I was thinking it was an original, well written movie, when actually everything about the drama is based on the life of writer/director Shana Feste. Because of that and a myriad of other reasons, it makes this movie even more fantastic. Vera Farmiga stars as Laura, a single parent, who works as an assistant to a wealthy family, loves her eccentric son Henry (Lewis MacDougall), and rescues as many animals as her home can hold. Someone who she doesn’t have the best of relationships with, is her father Jack (Christopher Plummer, great as always), a free living, retired man, who has been arrested too many times to count, and still deals marijuana on the side. It all amounts to Boundaries being a pleasant surprise. It kept me on my toes, with a narrative that is slightly ridiculous, sometimes humorous, and as life can be, it never stays within the lines.
At the center is a story about family, but it is also a weaving road trip. Jack is being kicked out of his retirement home for being a nuisance, and the only person willing to drive him across country to her sister in California…is Laura. Little does she know, but Dad has pounds of weed in his luggage, and devises a plan with Henry to distribute to those they meet along the way. With the cast on paper, I did not expect this movie to take a turn like this, but the journey is often wild and unpredictable, which is not what many will expect. I enjoy a movie like that.
I wavered at first, but by the end I greatly appreciated Boundaries. Farmiga is a constant professional, an actor that has deserved more praise than she has been allotted. Her work in the Conjuring series has been a driving reason for that series’ success. Here, she embodies the persona of a woman doing what it takes to stay above water, damaged by various men who never grow-up. Working to support her son, seeing her therapist to keep her sanity, and saving the poor little animals that seem to always find her. Her father’s love is something she often seeks, but it is always fleeting. He has been a man of mystery since his wife’s passing. The performance from Plummer (AMovieGuy.com‘s Best Supporting Actor winner for All the Money in the World) is the “out of left field” kind of good. I never thought Plummer could be this kind of character, yet here he is pulling it off.
The road trip proceeds, along with beautiful imagery of the coast, and various stops at the friends of Jack’s. Each stop reveals another classic actor, first Christopher Lloyd, second the legendary Peter Fonda, as a pair of hippies that never stopped loving life for all its pleasures, and the third stop is Leonard (Bobby Cannavale), the absent father of Henry. It is in these brief moments of interaction that we see who Jack truly is, a kind, funny person, and always trying to earn the appreciation of those who need him. Sadly, he cannot seem to settle for the life of a family man, avoiding the responsibility of being a father to Laura, or a grandfather to Henry. It is the dramatic and emotional scenes that amp up in Boundaries, and because everyone is firing on all cylinders, the audience buys in.
Boundaries evolves into a story about finding happiness in what we have. At times, it feels like a sequel to Lady Bird. The writing by Feste is original and filled with charming laughs. A few of the characters, such as son Henry and her sister JoJo (Kristen Schaal) feel undercooked. That’s not to take away the strong work by the films leads. Plummer and Farmiga are great. And during these troubling times, I greatly appreciated a film that is an opportunity for a female writer/director and lead to succeed at box-office. Boundaries is a fun trip to take.
Written by: Leo Brady