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By Mark Bell | September 24, 2014

A traveling man proves that you can go home again in Matt Rabinowitz’ The Frontier, a tale about relationships lost and found.

The Frontier features Max Gail (Wojo from Barney Miller) as Sean, a retired professor who lives a solitary existence in his beachfront home. Sean’s wife passed away long ago, and Sean bears the grief that the couple had an argument the night before her death, and that his young son, Tennessee (Coleman Kelly), discovered her body the next morning. From that moment on, Sean and Tennessee can never find a thing to say to each other, and Tennessee leaves home shortly thereafter. To help pass the time in his latter years, Sean attempts to write a book, but because he’s resistant to computerized-technology specifically, and change in general, he proceeds by reading handwritten notes into an old recorder. It is just about then that a beautiful young woman named Nina (Anastassia Sendyk) agrees to move into Sean’s house and become his editorial assistant, and Sean’s son Tennessee suddenly returns home.

The Frontier is Rabinowitz’ debut feature film, and in many ways his plot is neither exciting nor novel; the story seems too easily sewn up in places, making it fairly simple to figure out what will happen next. The characters are clear-cut too, with Sean being the quintessential, somewhat sloppy, pontificating prof with a definite abrasive edge. It’s not surprising that Tennessee leaves home and returns with a defensive attitude, ready to pounce on anything his father says or does. Both Sean and Tennessee describe Nina as an angel, and so she seems as she mediates between the two, cooks meals, organizes, and knows precisely when to leave the pair alone.

In spite of these, it’s very clear to see that The Frontier is a strong, interesting and successful drama. If anything, its so-called recipe of negatives is exactly what makes the film work. The actors are wonderful too, and feel very believable, almost as if they’re not acting at all. There’s much to be said for great casting, as The Frontier surely proves.

With the world in such a state of turmoil these days, The Frontier is a wonderful, true-to-life, antidote that will actually make you feel hopeful about love and life once again.

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