A cowboy in “The Frontier” receives a letter from his estranged father pleading for him to return home. This is only the beginning of an intimate family drama that subtly and delightfully subverts expectations of what kind of a tale it is and where it’s headed.
The titular frontier, as it turns out, is a suburb. Tennessee (Coleman Kelly) had left to work on a ranch after the death of his mother. His retired college professor father, Sean Sullivan (Max Gail), has long assumed that Tennessee holds him responsible for his mother’s untimely passing.
Surprisingly, though, Tennessee was simply fed up with growing up under the shadow of his larger-than-life father and his insufferable, occupational modus operandi of one-way, verbose pontifications. Although Sean has no shortage of wisdom to impart or famous quotes at his disposal on the subject of interpersonal relationships, he doesn’t put any of it into practice.
With Sean’s assistant, Nina (Anastassia Sendyk), filling in the role of mediator once assumed by Tennessee’s mother, father and son finally begin mending fences, literally and figuratively. Despite a few contrivances like the impending romance between Nina and Tennessee, “The Frontier” remains for the most part refreshing and astute.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hollywood.