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Boundaries is a story of exploitation, political intrigue, colonization and exploitation. But don't let these heavy themes fool you; writer-director Chloé Robichaud's characteristic minimalist style means that they're given short shrift, enveloped in a subtlety so dense it's like nothing is really happening at all.
The film takes place on the (fictional) island of Besco, a small islander community off the east coast of Canada that is struggling economically. Besco wants to negotiate with the Canadian government, one of her countries main creditors, to allow Canadian companies to come in and mine their precious resources while getting the best deals, jobs and infrastructure left in place. The government of Canada wants to help Besco, at least to their faces. In actuality what they want is to strip Besco of as many as its resources as possible while investing as little financially as they can. The conflict is viewed through three women: a 25 year old newly elected MP named Félixe, the president of Besco, Madame Richard, and an American mediator Emily Price. The women all try to stay as cold and distant from each other as their profession demands but a few brief flirtations with friendship arise between Price and each woman. Not that that's really the point of the movie. While the personal conflicts of each women get a few minutes of screen time (Félixe has trouble adjusting to the cynicism of politics, Richard is only president to build a better future for her kids, but then ironically has no time for them, and Emily who is so great at her job as a negotiator is failing to negotiate her own life as her husband is filing for sole custody of their kid) all of the problems are so trite and clichéd they feel stale. At one point Emily learns that her husband has officially filed against her and so she takes to the dance floor to let loose.
You would think since the women are such cut outs that at least the negotiations would be interesting but their not really. Again, Robichaud infuses her film with clichés as she intercuts footage of school kids brawling outside with the adults arguing inside. A huge part of the negotiations are also covered in a montage. It's weirdly trite for such a great filmmaker as Robichaud. And she really is a great filmmaker. Despite the script that weighs her down there are many moments of deft beauty and humour that show in her craft. There's a great scene of all three women washing their hands in the bathroom, simply smiling politely at one another as the bounds of professionalism keep them from acknowledging each other any further. There are many slow and beautiful shots of the scenery and some clever and fun editing. It's just a pity that the story behind Boundaries just isn't enough to stay interesting.
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