Road trips movies are inevitably about the forces that pull us apart and/or draw us together. Boundaries, from writer-director Shana Feste, uses this vehicle to look at three generations of a family in need of both distance and reunion.
Laura (Vera Farminga) has a problem setting limits, as is seen in the fact that she brings home every stray or injured dog or cat she finds. The one boundary she does keep is to never answer her father Jack’s (Christopher Plummer) many phone calls. But when her son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) is expelled from school for a nude caricature of the principal, she needs Jack’s help to pay for a special private school. Jack needs Laura’s help as well because he’s being kicked out of his retirement community for growing and selling marijuana. So a deal is struck and soon Laura is driving Jack’s ancient Rolls Royce down the Pacific Coast to deliver him to her sister Jojo (Kristen Schaal). What Laura doesn’t know is that the trunk is full of weed that Jack (with Henry’s help) is selling along the way.
Laura and Jack’s relationship is the key one in the film. The estrangement is based on Jack’s history of being a con man and years of broken promises. She is skeptical about letting him into Henry’s life (even before she eventually discovers Jack is using his grandson in the pot business). It is obvious that many of the woes in Laura’s life are rooted in her relationship with her father. She is the epitome of a people-pleaser and is often taken advantage of. Henry is obviously in need of more than she can provide, but Jack is hardly the influence she wants. Even her openness to strays is a search for those who can be relied on to return affection.
Although most of her life is devoid of boundaries, the discovery on the road trip is that the one fence she maintains is the one she has built around her heart concerning her father. As we should expect from a road movie, there will be times when the relationship is ready to crash, but in time, Jack and Laura may find the route that will take them to a new place—a place where they can find more in each other than they have known.
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics