This article was originally published on Film Threat (June 28, 2018).
Shana Feste draws from her personal experience and uses her fascinating father as a muse for her latest film, Boundaries. Laura (Vera Farmiga) is a work in progress and needs to learn how to stand her ground.
The film begins in the middle of her therapy session. As she vents about her frustrating and infuriating father, Jack (Christopher Plummer), her phone goes off. The therapist has instructed Laura to ignore his calls. You know her struggle is real when a roaring alarm blares and “Don’t Pick Up” flashes on the caller ID. This opening sequence perfectly sets the tone for Feste’s incredibly relatable and extremely entertaining dramedy.
“‘Don’t Pick Up’ flashes on the caller ID”
Jack has wronged Laura and her younger sister, Jojo (Kristen Schaal), in many ways throughout the course of their lives. No matter how bad the (sometimes literal) crime is, he always manages to charm his way back into their hearts. Now, Laura is a wreck because she keeps caving. She allows herself to be used by manipulative people who know just how to play her, including her entitled friend-turned-boss, her deadbeat ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale), and her dope dealing dad.
The most obvious symptom of her good-heartedness is the fact that she picks up every stray cat and dog she comes across. It is hilarious, albeit a bit unhygienic. She also has a wonderfully loving and sometimes unsettlingly honest relationship with her son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall). The kid is wise beyond his years and lashes out by sketching disturbing nude drawings of people, including his teachers. After the umpteenth offense, Henry is advised to attend a special (and expensive) school for likeminded free-spirits and artistically advanced students. This puts Laura in a conundrum and she feels there is no other option. She needs to reach out to Jack.
“…perfectly capture the angst that many daughters feel towards their fathers.”
The chaos that ensues from their father-daughter reunion is engaging, enraging, and explosively funny. The entire ensemble’s chemistry is electric. Plummer, Farmiga, and MacDougall deliver touching and captivating performances. It is obvious that Plummer enjoys exuding Jack’s mischievousness. Watching him play with Christopher Lloyd,Peter Fonda and Cannavale is a treat. Farmiga and Schaal perfectly capture the angst that many daughters feel towards their fathers. Honestly, sometimes situations feel all too relatable. However, that just means Feste has achieved her goal.
Viewers take this journey with her and find comparisons within their own lives. As a filmmaker, she has learned how to glean the good from the bad. The result is a narrative that enables these brilliant actors to shine and lures viewers in on their wild ride full of mayhem, shady pot-dealings, and inspiring moments of self-discovery.
Boundaries (2018) Written and directed by Shana Feste. Starring Vera Farmiga, Christopher Plummer, Lewis MacDougall, Christopher Lloyd, Kristen Schaal, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Fonda.
8 out of 10 stars
*Now available On Demand.