Friday, March 16, 2018

Movie with Abe: Furlough

Directed by Laurie Collyer
Released March 16, 2018

The concept of furlough is a strange one, since it represents a temporary release from a prison sentence that doesn’t negate a person’s crimes but instead allows them freedom to attend to an important matter deemed time-sensitive and worthwhile for an inmate to participate in despite their incarceration. Often, this is due to a family member or loved one’s impending death, giving them one last opportunity to say goodbye since the sick individual cannot travel to them. While it can be a truly dramatic and emotional time, it’s something that’s occasionally presented in comedic format in film and television, with those recipients unaccustomed to certain liberties taking full advantage of their new, if brief, lease on life.

Joan (Melissa Leo) is an inmate at a prison in upstate New York who is granted emergency furlough when the warden learns that her mother is dying. Officer Nicole Stevens (Tessa Thompson) is the lucky guard assigned to escort her, a journey that proves increasingly complicated after a lengthy bus trip and substantial train delays that encourage Joan to try to enjoy her time out and give Nicole multiple headaches as a result as she contends with ceaseless phone calls from her own mother (Whoopi Goldberg) while she is trying to focus on the job at hand, which could well lead to a much-needed promotion for her – if all goes well.

It’s obvious what kind of tone this film is going for when the warden is first seen singing to himself in a mirror when he calls Nicole in to fill her in on her new assignment. What Joan did to get herself into prison isn’t dwelled on, and she repeatedly tells Nicole to take it easy since she only has six months left on her sentence and therefore is hardly a flight risk. Much of Goldberg’s role is played for laughs since her relationship with her onscreen daughter is relatively good if a bit too close because of her dependence on her, and Leo milks Joan for all she’s worth, finding humor and excitement in even the most lackluster of moments.

Director Laurie Collyer is probably best known for directing the 2006 film “Sherrybaby,” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. Here, she creates a comedy that’s moderately entertaining if considerably less impactful. What it does well is that it succeeds at knowing what it wants to be and being that, framing Joan as a big talker who just wants to have fun and who, in the process, helps Nicole to let her hair down and enjoy some of the simpler things in life. These are hardly the best performances from Oscar winner Leo and rising star Thompson, who has a very memorable turn in “Sorry to Bother You,” which premiered at Sundance this year, and recently starred in “Westworld,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “Annihilation,” but they’re having fun, and this mediocre movie is a perfectly pleasant experience.


No comments: