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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Boundaries movie review: family lies

Boundaries yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Mildly wacky road-trip shenanigans meet mildly uncomfortable family dramedy. The saving grace? The cast is a joy to spend time with.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love the cast, desperate for stories about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
female director, female screenwriter, female coprotagonist
(learn more about this)

Laura (Vera Farmiga: The Commuter) has vowed never to see or talk to her unreliable, former–drug dealer father, Jack (Christopher Plummer: All the Money in the World), ever again, not least because of the bad influence he would be on her teenaged son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall: A Monster Calls). But now Jack has been kicked out his nursing home for bad behavior, and she has to drive him across three states to deposit him with her sister, JoJo (Kristen Schaal: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie). Mildly wacky road-trip shenanigans ensue, such as the gentle kookiness of Jack selling pot to Buddhist monks. But the indignities writer-director Shana Feste (Endless Love) subjects her characters to in the name of family dramedy verge on the uncomfortable, particularly because she deploys them only because there’d be no story if she didn’t: Jack’s reliance on adult diapers is a focus of strained humor as he uses them to smuggle the pot stash he’s unloading to old friends and acquaintances along the way, but worse is the utter obliviousness Laura has to maintain about what her father (with the help of her son) is up to on their travels. It almost goes without saying that the cast is a sheer delight to spend time with, but we do end up pitying them rather more than a lighthearted story about their inevitable reconciliation would seem to demand.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other releases.

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yellow light 3 stars

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Boundaries (2018) | directed by Shana Feste
US/Can release: Jun 22 2018
UK/Ire release: Dec 07 2018 (direct to VOD)

MPAA: rated R for drug material, language, some sexual references and nude sketches
BBFC: rated 15 (drug references and misuse, strong language, sexualised images, nudity)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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