Between Us goes straight for the jugular, offering an acerbic, brutal, and insightful look at a modern-day relationship. With a strong script and two enthralling central performances, this drama is a must-see – although maybe not for date night.
Ben Feldman and Olivia Thirlby both throw themselves headfirst into their roles, managing to be both sympathetic and unlikable – a tricky combo to nail. Their relationship has that lived-in quality that the film desperately needs to work – when arguments inevitably dredge up the past, this couple’s history hangs tangibly in the air, ready to engulf their present and future. Elsewhere Analeigh Tipton, Scott Haze and Adam Goldberg all give great performances that sidestep cliche to elevate small roles – Goldberg in particular steals his few scenes with quiet magnetism.
Ultimately this is still Feldman and Thirlby’s film though, and they knock it out the park. A lot of credit is due to the script; dialogue is weighty without feeling heavy-handed, and the conversation between Henry and Dianne that acts as overarching narration brings everything together perfectly.
Director Rafael Palacio Illingworth brings the same flair to Between Us that won him Best Micro-Budget Feature for Macho at Raindance 2010. His camera stays right up in characters’ faces during moments of intimacy and tension, although he occasionally lets loose for visually inventive sequences – text-message conversations are particularly memorable, as are the surreal long takes that open and close the film.
As trust collapses and a relationship spirals out of control, Between Us never comes across as depressing or overly nihilistic. Instead you root for Dianne and Henry, together and apart, and the film’s final scenes offer a perfect end to the realistic and relatable love story. Just make sure you have someone on hand to give you a hug afterwards.
CAST: Olivia Thirlby, Ben Feldman, Adam Goldberg, Analeigh Tipton
DIRECTOR: Rafael Palacio Illingworth
WRITER: Rafael Palacio Illingworth
SYNOPSIS: Thirlby and Feldman play a couple confronted by the fear that settling down and getting married means their carefree days as city-dwelling young adults are coming to an abrupt and depressing end. As they try to conform to society’s expectations, planning a wedding while still disdaining the institution, they begin to lose sight of who they are and why they fell in love in the first place.