Between Us Reviews
Between Us not only explores this dark, taboo dead space: it thrives there. Adapted from the award-winning stage play of the same name written by Joe Hortua, Between Us is a darkly comedic drama featuring two couples being both completely honest and absolutely horrible to each other. Should they conceal their true feelings of each other for the sake of their friendship? Are friendships only sustainable by what essentially amounts to lying? Director Dan Mirvish's film offers no easy answers to these questions, only probing examination, which makes this character study all the more fascinating.
The story jumps between two dinner parties, attended by two couples, and separated by several years: at the first, newlyweds Grace and Carlo (Julia Stiles and Taye Diggs) are guests at the home of their affluent friends, Sharyl and George (Melissa George and David Harbour). At the second, Sharyl and George are the guests, but the group's status and friendships have all taken a dramatic turn. As the story jumps back and forth between the two evenings, the mystery behind what terrible thing happened in the interim to cause this change becomes more and more pronounced. The movie is like slowly picking at a scab because you're too curious not to see what's underneath it.
(Oh, come on; don't act like you've never done it.)
The comparison is apt, because "Between Us" is an often-times difficult, even painful film to watch. The characters treat each other terribly, without resorting to anything as obvious as outright physical harm; the wounds they inflict on each other are emotional ones, which are far slower to heal. This pain is only believable because of impressive performances from the small cast. Particularly impressive in the performances is how well the actors convey this hurt in quiet scenes of burgeoning tension, as well as scenes where that tension has escalated to outright verbal warfare.
While all of the cast is great, Harbour is a stand-out, if only because the script affords him the most opportunity to stretch his dramatic muscle. He somehow expresses a vulnerability and unspoken desperation from his character, even when he's being sullen, or hopeful, or hateful. The dichotomy incites audience sympathy even when he's hurting the people closest to him, which is a remarkable feat.
While the story is a drama, the script and direction employ elements of horror in the storytelling. Scenes jump forward from the bright and hopeful villa where Sharyl and George live, to a drab and cluttered apartment. The audience is teased with information regarding what fuels the characters' indignity, inciting tension and interest until it reaches the breaking point.
Mirvish wisely does not mistake "darkness" for negativity. This is not simply a "feel-bad" movie that leaves the audience feeling terrible after the lights come up. This is a film that causes you to ponder what you've seen, and I confess, the movie has grown even greater in my opinion the more I've thought about it.
On the critical side of things, it is frequently apparent that the film is adapted from a stage play: while Mirvish takes some opportunities to venture outside the rather stationary two locations, at times the film feels a bit claustrophobic. Also, as mentioned, this is not an easy or even pleasant movie to watch; for many, this kind of filmmaking simply won't be their cup of tea.
But if you enjoy stories that challenge more than entertain, ones that stick with you and replay in your mind hours, even days after watching, Between Us is definitely worth a watch.
Julia stiles performance was true but Taye Diggs was superb and outstanding
Julia Styles is really great in this film. The entire cast is good, but Julia does an amazing job at playing multiple versions of her character.
I don't think this is a great film to see if you are thinking about getting married, but it is a great film to see if you want to be entertained, but in an uncomfortable way.
I strongly reccommend this film for anyone that is looking for a dark drama, with a deep relationship story in the background. It is deep in conversation and multiple layers of these two couples relationships are brought out throughout the film.
Overall it is a GREAT MOVIE!