Between Us tackles the issues of what happens following the ‘happily ever after’. It follows a bohemian couple, Dianne (Olivia Thirlby) and Henry (Ben Feldman), who are both starting to question whether they are suited for each other. With slightly different worldviews, each of them finds another person who seems to be more ideal but who are ultimately disappointing. The film is an honest depiction of a long-term relationship in which the ‘spark’ seems to have gone, but where ultimately the couple do love each other.
Between Us starts surreally with a dark cloud hanging over the sitting room, and this creative touch is seen throughout. Voice overlays over the top of various scenes also provided an interesting vibe for the film. One thing of particular note for me was the texting sequences, where the screen would be completely black and any music or noise cut out. With so many different ways of displaying text messages in films, this was much more emotive. Another scene was an early sex scene in which the camera focuses mainly on their faces, and the details on them to create something intimate and touching. It is a beautifully shot and edited film throughout, which only aids a unique storyline.
“funny and touching, emotional and devastating”
Between Us is a frank and honest film. Both of the characters make mistakes when they flirt with strangers, both of them try to make the relationship work in their own way. There are scenes throughout that also show how well matched the two of them are together, particularly one in which they decide to get married because ‘fuck it’ and they start chanting ‘husband and wife’ and dancing around their apartment crazed. The characters are flawed and sometimes infuriating, but they are also sympathetic because of their love for the other, something which is undeniable. In one devastating scene, Henry explains how for him the worst part of their relationship is knowing that he will never get to be with the earlier version of Dianne, who is passionate and uncaring, but that someone else could still have her. It captures a strange emotion of loss, and it resonates particularly well. The story leads us to a night in which both are sent off into their respective worlds to follow their desires, a sort of thought experiment that allows the two characters freedom for that set period of time. The results are heart-wrenching, but the two embrace as the film ends, still unsure of what will happen next.
The film benefits hugely from having a great cast. Thirlby and Feldman excel in their parts, and the supports are also impressive. The two are both sympathetic while also maddening; they are well-rounded characters who create a believable relationship, something the film hinges on. The writing and directing of Rafael Palacio Illingworth is excellent and he has created a film that is truly a pleasure to watch and one I hope to re-watch several times in the future. The film captures the essence of long term relationships with the quirks, the built up resentments, and the dependency that forms when being with someone for an extended period of time. It is funny and touching, emotional and devastating.
Image: Rafael Palacio Illingworth