Between Us

| May 22, 2017

Diane (Olivia Thirlby; Dredd) and Henry (Ben Feldman; Madmen) have been together for so long that they’re practically married but the couple have always resisted the pressures put upon them by society and their families to settle down, get married, buy an affordable apartment in a respectable neighborhood and have a few kids.  As they ultimately do decide to get married, they find themselves facing trials to their relationship that have never come up as they’ve become complacent in their own disinterest.  Henry finds himself drawn to a sexy young musical artist (Analeigh Tipton; Warm Bodies) while Diane becomes the target of her boss’s (Scott Haze; Child of God) affection.

Stories about infidelity tend to make me uncomfortable.  I can’t imagine cheating on someone I’m committed to, and I can’t imagine enjoying it if I did.  Progressive open relationships that transcend barbaric practices like jealousy and spite are another issue and even though I’ve never found myself in one of those situations, I’d like to think that if me and my partner were on the same page with that sort of arrangement, I’d be find with it.  Everything about Diane and Henry’s relationship strikes me as unpleasant.  Henry is a pretentious loser, who projects his own insecure nonsense on Diane, who is little more than a doormat.  She wants to get married, she wants the nice apartment, the kids and the normal lifestyle, but she doesn’t feel safe telling that to Henry so she just accepts that she will just never be happy enough.

This comes back to the infidelity angle.  As both characters admit that they’ve been flirting or otherwise being inappropriate with other people, the film falls into a trap that most movies about this subject fall into.  Each character justifies further pushing of boundaries with other people because they assume/know the other person is doing the same.  It’s childish and makes me as the audience immediately care less about both characters because they clearly don’t have the emotional maturity to be in a long-term relationship.  The fact that they make it this far is depressing because it feels realistic to cultivate a relationship that ignores big issues because they may lead to uncomfortable conversations.  These people are so pathetically co-dependent that they can’t even recognize their own misery.

The film itself is very well put together.  I don’t care about the characters, yes, but I am intrigued by the film they populate.  I never got the sense that the director wanted us to root for anyone or take sides or god forbid relate to one of these people.  In this way, the film feels like a tool for recognizing any bad habits we may have in relationships and recognize how unhealthy these practices are, which I think gives the film a very responsible message for viewers.  I also like the director’s use of disembodied dialogue.  We’ll be watching a scene or a montage of characters interacting and another scene will be heard over top of it.  Sometimes we know who’s speaking, sometimes we know who they’re talking to.  Sometimes we know both or neither.  These intimate conversations that peel back the façade of the rest of the film and the people in it juxtaposed with scenes of them living out their lives is very effective for me.  The metaphor of them not speaking over the voiceover ain’t bad either.

Available now on DVD from IFC Films.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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