I try my best to dispel any preconceived notions before seeing a film, so as to get the most out of the experience. Alas, I knew what The In Between was before I even went into it. All one needs to do is look at the film’s poster to feel the exact same expectations I had, and I’m sorry to say that those assumptions were met completely.
I really wanted to like this movie. Even though she’s been acting for years, I was prepared to see this as the true “breakout” of Joey King (The Kissing Booth, Radium Girls); she both produced stars in The In Between, and the film is even based on the performer’s own concept. She clearly had a strong hand in getting this film produced, and I think that’s great — it’s just a shame that the first creative project she’s spearheading is this direct-to-Paramount+ sci-fi romance.
The In Between isn’t even spectacularly bad; it’s just painfully generic. King plays Tessa, a young photographer who meets Skylar (West Side Story’s Kyle Allen). Sparks fly, but there’s (just barely) a twist — midway through their summer of love, a terrible accident tragically separates the pair. The film takes a non-linear storytelling approach, as events before the accident inform events afterward. Initially, I was completely on board with this, but we’ve seen everything else before. There’s not anything special about Tessa and Skylar’s relationship, and the examination of trauma post-accident doesn’t break any new ground.
Midway through the film, though, there’s a bizarre science-fiction twist without which the film might have worked. It comes out of nowhere, and feels like it’s there just to pad the runtime and ensure that the “genre twist” promised by the marketing team makes sense. The only problem is — it doesn’t.
Perhaps this is exactly the film that King wanted to make, and I won’t fault her for that. Even though nearly every other performer around her (save for Celeste O’Connor as Tessa’s best friend) is static, King is full of energy, and her enthusiasm for the material is genuinely infectious. She’s easily the best part of the film, and seems to be the only one trying to elevate the material beyond its uninteresting base level.
The In Between ends up another bland romance hinged on the attractiveness of its leads rather than their chemistry. There’s at least an attempt to encourage discussions and awareness about trauma and its effect on young people. Nevertheless the film falls victim to every single trope pioneered by better romance movies which is emblematic of the laziness with which it was made. You can tell it started off with a solid idea, but somehow the magic got lost along the way.
The In Between is now streaming on Paramount+.