The In-Between

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The In-Between
"Stone and Bledsoe are wholly convincing as two people who know each other inside out but see their relationship in different ways."

What is it that makes road trips so effective as cinema? They're perfectly suited to the format: they bring characters together for a convenient length of time, force them to converse and deny them an easy way out until the trip - and the film - reach their natural conclusion. Mindy Bledsoe's film, however, does something a little different. It's a story about what happens in the absence of natural conclusions - a story that doesn't end with a sense that a state has been reached that will exist forever, instead focusing on the value to be found in passing things.

Mads (Jennifer Stone) and Junior (played by Bledsoe herself) have been friends for a long time. They're driving cross-country together to visit the place where Junior's sister was killed in a car crash and where Junior developed chronic pain which has limited her use of her arms ever since. Junior is nervous about the trip but feels that this is something she has to do to get closure. That's something that Mads understands as she's struggled to find peace ever since her mother walked out when she was a child. Both women will experience big changes in the course of the trip, but not in the ways they expect.

A film in which the small moments are as important as the big changes, The In-Between is interested in how people shift between different phases in their lives and what can happen when they're stuck in one position for too long. It's full of the details that make up a friendship, the in-jokes and shared experiences of day to day life, the ways the women support each other in times of need and put up with each other's bullshit, sometimes for too long. It's a story about how the search for the eternal can impede progress. Stone and Bledsoe, who are friends in real life, are wholly convincing as two people who know each other inside out but see their relationship in different ways and have never really talked about that, simply allowing pressure to build because neither has the will to address it until there is no alternative.

The film is also notable for its representation of chronic illness. Junior perpetually has to work around pain and Mads has to manage diabetes; each has an outlook on life shaped in part by her ailment but neither is centred on it in the way healthy people tend to expect. It's good to see t treated simply as a part of life, as it is for millions of people. Junior makes explicit her dislike of platitudes about positive thinking, but she still has lessons to learn about how to handle the fear that stems for her physical pain and her bereavement, a psychological issue which proves at least as limiting as her physical impairment.

Full of smart observations and incidental humour, The In-Between will really make you feel as if you're along for the ride. It won't take you anywhere in particular but it may change your mind about where you want to be.

Reviewed on: 27 Nov 2019
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Two women set out on a road trip across the American West. Junior is trying to let go of her past. Mads is trying to find hers.

Director: Mindy Bledsoe

Writer: Mindy Bledsoe, Rob Senska

Starring: Jennifer Stone, Mindy Bledsoe, Rane Jameson

Year: 2019

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: US

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