[DIFF Review]…Between Us

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 Between Us deals with the harsh realities that exist in friendships, love marriage and life that are rarely depicted in films.  Director Dan Mirvish, co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival, adapted the film from an Off-Broadway play by Joe Hortua.

The film revolves around the lives of Carlo (Taye Diggs) and Joel (David Harbour), two friends who first met in art school, and moves between present moments and flashbacks into the past where we are introduced to Joel and his wife Sharyl (Melissa George) as they are hosting Carlo and his new wife Grace (Julie Stiles) at their large home in the Midwest.

At this point we learn Joel and Sharyl have a newborn in the house and recently moved from New York City to the suburbs where Joel has accepted a job that can provide more financial stability for his new family. Meanwhile newlyweds Grace and Carlo are still living back in New York where Carlo continues to be a practicing artist. The suburban couple is clearly unhappy, and they behave very badly, making their friends quite uncomfortable.

Flash forward to the present day with a surprise visit from Sharyl and Joel to Grace and Carlo’s New York apartment, and it is as if the two couples have switched places. Joel and Sharyl, whose relationship seemed positively, doomed before, are all smiles, while Grace and Carlo, despite an attempt to grin and bear it, are clearly falling apart.

The timing of each encounter coincides with a recent birth and the introduction of a child into the couple’s lives. Mirvish looks at the way this stage of life and the increase in responsibility effects marriage, highlighting the thin line that exists between love and hate, ultimately concluding that love in marriage is in a constant state of flux, something that must be worked on in order to ever be mended or maintained.

G-S-T Ruling:

The majority of Between Us takes place within two scenes consisting of sequences of heavy dialogue, a scenario that can easily fail if the acting is not up to par. Fortunately, Mirvish has chosen a phenomenal cast, and the performances are so raw, so believable and real that it almost hurts to watch, but at the same time you can’t look away. These are characters completely stripped of any of good-mannered principles we are taught as human beings in order to maintain a certain level of politeness among friends, and what we are left with are the hard truths; the things we have all thought at one time or another but would never say out loud. While it may be difficult for some to swallow, it’s refreshing to see this kind of rare honesty displayed in film.

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Between Us was selected to screen at the Dallas International Film Festival as a part of the festival’s Special Presentation series. Monterey Media has picked up the film for distribution, and plans on releasing it theatrically sometime this summer.