The spirit of ‘Ghost’ literally haunts ‘The In Between,’ a romance about two high school students whose romance is tragically cut short, including a poster cameo for the 1990 blockbuster that starred Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. This time, the star-crossed lovers are teenagers – Tessa (Joey King) and Skylar (Kyle Allen) – who are involved in a car crash in the film’s opening scene. Skyler is killed and Tessa is hospitalized with a serious heart injury, an example of the film’s less than subtle use of metaphors.
Using a split timeline, “The In Between” alternates between the past, recounting how Tessa and Skylar fell in love, and the present, in which a grieving Tessa begins to believe her late boyfriend is trying to communicate with her from beyond. -falls.
The teenagers meet at a revival screening of Jean-Jacques Beneix’s 1986 crazy love tale, “Betty Blue”, in which they are the only two people in the theater (the film was shot during the pandemic of COVID). When Tessa complains that the French movie doesn’t have subtitles, Skylar sits down next to her and begins translating every line of dialogue. At the end of the film, they hold hands.
Tessa, a reserved and withdrawn orphan who stays away from her foster parents, doesn’t trust people easily. She’s a budding photographer who keeps the world at bay through the lens of her camera. But she’s disarmed by the handsome, polite boy who speaks three languages, has read Wharton and Austen, and is on their school’s rowing team. He also happens to be a lifeguard – a living embodiment of the Boyfriend Lottery jackpot.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Tessa begins to receive messages suggesting that Skylar is trying to communicate with her from beyond the grave. Mysterious photos she never took develop and then disappear in her darkroom. INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”, a song she and Skylar loved, starts playing on her cell phone during class. In the dreams, Skylar appears to him and says, “I’m still here. But what does he want and how will Tessa communicate with him?
“The In Between” was written by Marc Klein (“Serendipity”, “Mirror Mirror”) and directed by Arie Posin (“The Face of Love”) with a complete lack of cunning that its target audience of young teenagers will appreciate (the the film streams exclusively on Paramount Plus). Filmmakers sometimes make baffling choices, like a PG-13-rated but still surprising sex scene that just doesn’t seem out of place, given that it’s the kind of movie in which fireworks go off in the sky. when the couple share their first kiss.
King, who co-produced the film and is best known for Netflix’s ‘The Kissing Booth’ trilogy, and Allen, who played one of the Jets in ‘West Side Story’ and will later portray He-Man for a live -action adaptation of “Masters of the Universe”, make an attractive couple, even if they look more like middle schoolers than high schoolers. The film is at its best during flashback scenes detailing their truly tender romance. He fare less well when they are separated and inhabit different realms.
The condescending ending of “The In Between” feels like a cheat – a sugar-coated finale to what is essentially a bittersweet tragedy – and contradicts David Foster Wallace’s epigraph that opens the film, “Every love story is a ghost story. The film also takes an inordinately long time to get there. But it’s hard to imagine his target audience complaining about such modest and forgettable fodder for a sleepover.
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