One good way to describe Boundaries is that it does yet doesn’t live up to its title. It doesn’t offer any boundary-breaking storytelling. But it still is a poignant demonstration of what happens when one does or doesn’t impose limitations on the behavior of their children. Again, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen or been told before. But Boundaries is still worth recommending for being a simplistic, well-acted escapist road film.
Boundaries follows the story of a single mother named Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga) whose life is in slight chaos. Her artistic son Henry (Lewis MacDougall) keeps getting into trouble at school and she tries taking care of the many pets living in her household. Adding to her chaos is her father Jack (Christopher Plummer) getting ejected from his retirement home. Both Laura and Henry end up taking Jack on a road trip down to Los Angeles so Jack can live with Laura’s sister JoJo (Kristen Schaal). Along the way, Jack starts dealing marijuana and both he and Laura undergo a rather turbulent reconnection after being distant for so long.
Because the father and daughter learn some life lessons during their road trip, you can get an idea of where Boundaries is going to go in the end. Boundaries may not exactly cross any new ones. Yet, it still works as a piece of heartfelt escapism thanks to its simplistic storyline. Even though the script never demonstrates this theme in an expositional manner, it does offer insight into how one’s parental behavior can influence the kind of person their child will become. Laura may be someone more focused on responsibilities than her father. However, she still enforces little boundaries in her household. She picks up any cat or dog she sees wandering in the streets. Also, despite her son always getting in trouble for drawing nude photos, she’s still lenient about it, allowing him to express artistic freedom.
After being scared to death in the Conjuring films and tackling a slew of dramatic roles, it’s quite refreshing to see Vera Farmiga do something lighter. Not only that but she manages to pull off playing the unorthodox comedic persona and the straight man. While her character humorously picks up any stray animal she comes across, she still vents her frustrations over her father’s antics. The balancing act in her performance makes it her most complex portrayal since her Oscar-nominated turn in Up In The Air.
Surprising nobody, Christopher Plummer is amazing as Jack. It’s also nice to see him doing something light after saving the messy production on All The Money In The World. As for Lewis MacDougall, who you might remember as young Connor from A Monster Calls, he does solid work. He doesn’t quite pull off playing a rebellious teenager but he does an admirable job with what he’s given.
The three actors help make this trip worth watching and manage to be worth the price of admission. Boundaries deserves a look for them and for its heartfelt storytelling. It may not have anything new to say. But it’s still immensely watchable regardless.