PFF25: Boundaries

Boundaries features the dual lives of Canadian politicians, as they quarrel about environmental policies on the clock, and grapple with personal issues on their own time. The film focuses primarily on Emily Price (Emily VanChamp), a moderator between opposing political parties whose personal life has been turned over by a messy divorce and a lost custody battle. The film’s subplots further highlight this dichotomy. For example, there is Felixe (Nathalie Doummar), who seems to be in the midst of finding herself while pursuing a relationship with a fellow co-worker. Viewers watch Felixe go on awkward dates and frequent psychic readings while being criticized for her decisions in the meeting room. Another compelling character is Macha Grenon (Danielle Richard), who apparently has a significant role in the political negotiations being made. In the business setting she is very strict, professional, and uptight, but all her emotions come out in the home setting.

Although it sets up a compelling dissonance between work and home life, Boundaries is frankly pretty dull. One thing I did enjoy about Boundaries, however, was the contemporary aesthetic the film makes use of. Director Chloé Robichaud captured a number of visually appealing scenes. At one point, Price and her co-workers meet at what appears to be a bathroom that is symmetrically divided by a giant sink in the center of the room. The lack of noise, combined with the visual symmetry in this scene embodies the concept of business being just a day-to-day motion for some people. This creates a contrast with what we learn about the main characters later in the film. They gather every day to negotiate and deal with the apathy of politics but they all have genuine problems and struggles outside of the meeting room. Another scene that brilliantly captures this idea occurs when Macha Grenon has to help her ill child. Grenon takes her frustration out on her daughter, despite the girl’s playful attitude. The audience is then taken to a completely dark scene where all we can see is the back of Grenon’s body fade away as she runs off to scream in the dark. The use of an all-black background and the fading image of Grenon clearly capture the inescapable conflict she is facing both at home and in the workplace. I also loved Boundaries’ use of sexy jazz music during interludes as well as its relaxing country scenery.

Boundaries also does a good job of focusing on females within the political sphere. There is a notable lack of male leads within this film. Price, Felize, and Grenon seem to be the main focus of attention. This is a clear contrast from how men usually dominate the political sphere. Grenon also has more power over some of her correspondents. She is the president of Besco, an imaginary Canadian location, and has the final say over the decisions being made. It is also interesting how men quarrel the loudest and speak a lot throughout the meetings but the film chooses not to focus on these personalities.

In spite of the film’s clever visuals and somewhat progressive narrative, I would not recommend Boundaries. The film has a very dead plot that takes a while to grasp. By the time everything starts making sense, it’s very possible that the viewer will have already lost interest in the movie. The lack of intense and immediate action between characters also made the film very dull. For example, the movie starts out in what looks like an old high-school gym converted into a classroom. Canadian politicians and business leaders gather there to negotiate. It was clear from their discussions that there seemed to be a problem with mining and environmental concerns, however, the specific problem was never clearly introduced, making it very difficult to follow. The lack of dialogue between characters within the film also made it difficult to understand the role and background of each figure. I had trouble understanding the role of each person that was occasionally introduced into the negotiations, which occasionally rendered the plot unintelligible. Ultimately, Boundaries is visually appealing but lacks the action to maintain its viewers’ attention.

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