"Boundaries" Open Up to the World

Directed by Shana Feste

Starring Christopher Plummer, Christopher Lloyd, Kristen Schaal, Peter Fonda, Lewis MacDougall, Vera Farmiga

Following in the tradition of the great road movies, director Shana Feste’s “Boundaries” tells of a particularly conflicted family trio —  dysfunctional mom Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga), awkward son Henry (Lewis MacDougall), and estranged father Jack (Christopher Plummer— who embark on trip along the Pacific Coast to take grampa/grandpa to his other daughter Jojo (Kristen Schaal). Told in the same offbeat manner that the late great director Hal Ashby embraced, it offers a sometimes touching, sometimes infuriating, portrayal of family betrayal and redemption.

Feste’s very personal story of family and friends taps into a catalog of quirks. Struggling single mother Laura has an extraordinary love for strays — dogs, cats and men. This 30-something lives with her exceptionally talented 14-year-old son, a fabulous artist who can’t resist making nude drawings of everyone he encounters including his female principal, who expels him from school for such a piece of work. Her pot-dealing dad has just been kicked out of yet another nursing home for turning his apartment into a ganja patch. So she strikes a deal with him, even though he has abandoned throughout her life. She will come to his rescue and drive him to Cali, if he will give her the money needed for Henry’s tuition in a school for special students. But in order to finance her, Jack hijacks his fellow travelers into being his drug mules as the road trip veers off course so he can make stops to sell off his marijuana stash. They visit his art-forging friend (Chris Lloyd) and old Hollywood client (Peter Fonda), and make a side trip to see Henry’s deadbeat dad Leonard (Bobby Cannavale) — who also happens to be a client of Jack.

Laughs and tears alternate throughout it all as they come together as a family that will probably never get fixed — though Henry is likely to discover his true course in life through art and disruption — a confidence he gains acquired by getting to know his grandfather.

Obviously a story like this draws on Feste's own checkered family history, so this indie has a comfortability and ease of narrative that offsets its sometimes uneven pacing and delivery. Thankfully, by being stocked with a stalwart cast such fine actors from 88 year-old Plummer to 16-year-old MacDougall, Feste’s finds ideal surrogates who put voice to her narrative about family compromise and resolution.

Boundaries opens nationally on June 22