×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Furlough’

A corrections officer takes a prison inmate on a trip to visit her dying mother in Laurie Collyer’s milquetoast dramedy.

Director:
Laurie Collyer
With:
Tessa Thompson, Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg, Anna Paquin, Edgar Ramirez, La La Anthony, Erik Griffin.
Release Date:
Mar 16, 2018

Rated R  1 hour 23 minutes

“Furlough” looks, sounds and plays like a comedy — albeit without the actual jokes. The story of an African-American corrections officer tasked with taking a Caucasian inmate on a trip to see her dying mother, Laurie Collyer’s film assumes the racially-mismatched-buddy form of “48 Hrs.” and the contentious central dynamic of “Midnight Run,” except that its first draft-grade script lacks the absurdity necessary to elicit laughs, or the depth that might make it moving. Caught between its competing urges, it merely squanders its accomplished leads Tessa Thompson and Melissa Leo in a listless purgatory.

Uptight Nicole (Thompson) lives at home with, and cares for, her mom (Whoopi Goldberg), all while working at an upstate New York prison for women where she covets a full-time job. She’s promised that position by her warden (Erik Griffin) if she agrees to babysit Joan (Leo) on a 36-hour excursion to visit her ailing mother, so away the duo go, with Joan — sporting a head full of cornrows, a thick New Yawk accent, and a smile a mile wide — thrilled to enjoy a breath of fresh air after having been locked up for eight years on an armed robbery charge. Moreover, with only six months to go until she achieves true freedom, Joan is initially willing to comply with Nicole’s orders, including walking about in public with cuffed wrists and ankles.

The pair’s public-transit journey is interrupted by a train delay in Manhattan, at which point Joan convinces Nicole to stop in for a bite at a local restaurant, and then to make a pit stop at a local salon so she can get a hairstyle that’ll better please her mother. Nicole reluctantly goes along with these requests, as well as Joan’s subsequent plea that they stop in at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that just so happens to be taking place at the church they pass by. Jeff Cardoni’s jaunty score underscores that these incidents are meant to be funny, as do the actress’ exaggerated odd-couple reactions to each other. However, their circumstances are so pedestrian, and their exchanges are so devoid of wittiness, that the material just lays there, seemingly waiting for a punchline to appear.

“Furlough” momentarily embraces its bawdier instincts when Nicole sneaks away from her AA meeting to join a sex-addict therapy group, where she immediately woos a libidinous veterinarian (a confused-looking Edgar Ramirez). Yet even then, director Collyer keeps a lid on any real outrageousness, such that Joan’s tryst is kept almost completely off-screen, and upon being apprehended by Nicole, she happily allows herself to be re-shackled. That’s in keeping with the film’s generally wan energy, which further nosedives once Nicole makes it to her mom’s bedside, and we’re expected to feel something genuine about a character who, up until this point, has been embodied by Leo as a cartoon character with a mischievous twinkle in her eye — although not mischievous enough to compel her to do something that comes off as truly naughty.

Opposite Leo’s game smirking, the usually magnetic Thompson is reduced to furrowing her brow as the buttoned-up Nicole, who’s destined from the start to learn that she has to create an independent life for herself — and demand some help with her pestering mom from her self-absorbed sister Brandy (La La Anthony) — just as Joan is fated to realize that mother-daughter relationships, no matter how thorny, are important. A late appearance by Anna Paquin can’t salvage the uninvolving sentimental climax, which is staged by director Collyer with the same tepidness and jarring abruptness that typifies most of the film’s milquetoast dramedy.

Film Review: 'Furlough'

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., March 13, 2018. Rated R. Running time: 83 MIN.

Production: An IFC Films release of a Meridian Entertainment, DeerJen production, in association with EFC Films, Symbolic Exchange. Producers: Jen Gatien, Melissa Leo. Executive producers: Carole Meiselman, Jennifer Dong, Figo Li, James Schamus, Joe Pirro, James W. Skotchdopol. Co-producers: Drena De Niro, Adam Davenport.

Crew: Director: Laurie Collyer. Screenplay: Barry Strugatz. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Berenice Eveno. Editor: Jesse Gordon. Music: Jeff Cardoni.

With: Tessa Thompson, Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg, Anna Paquin, Edgar Ramirez, La La Anthony, Erik Griffin.

More Film

  • Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in

    Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman Starring in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' for Netflix

    Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman will star in the movie adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Netflix. George C. Wolfe (“Lackawanna Blues”) will direct from a script by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, based on the award-winning play by August Wilson. Other cast include Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Michael Potts. Denzel [...]

  • Crazy Bitches

    Why the CASE Act Will Empower Creatives to Fight the Horrors of Piracy

    Our horror film, “Crazy Bitches,” was released on Valentine’s Day 2015. We invested in an online marketing campaign that resulted in two times the industry clickthrough rate and 2.6M social media impressions in the week leading up to the release. So, we had reason to expect a successful return. What we didn’t count on was [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse LA

    Alamo Drafthouse to Open in Downtown Los Angeles in July

    The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain is planning to open its first Los Angeles location with a “soft launch” in early July in the city’s downtown. The Texas-based chain, which has 38 locations, specializes food and drink service with unique programming. It announced Wednesday that the Los Angeles site, located at the Bloc, would offer an [...]

  • Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following

    Max Landis Dropped by Manager Following Sexual Assault Allegations

    Max Landis has been dropped as a client by his manager, a day after sexual assault allegations emerged against the  screenwriter. “I do not represent Max Landis,” Britton Rizzio at Writ Large Management told Variety in a statement. Landis is facing allegations of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation from eight women who told their stories [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Another Round of Layoffs Hit Disney and 20th Century Fox Film Divisions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Another round of layoffs are going down for employees merged in Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, individuals with knowledge of the company told Variety. The Wednesday reduction is the smallest round the studio has enacted since formally acquiring the film and TV assets of 20th Century in March, with a few dozen employees being [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Netflix Lands Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Tick, Tick... Boom!' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following a heated bidding war, Netflix has walked away with the rights to “Tick, Tick… Boom!” a musical adaptation to be directed by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sources say Andrew Garfield is the top choice to star, though no deal is done. “Dear Evan Hansen” writer Steven Levenson adapting the script based on the original [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content