THE IN-BETWEEN – Review by April Neale

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The In-Between is a coming of (emotional) age road trip film directed by Mindy Bledsoe. The poignant ride with two young women—each saddled with a psychic and physical burden—setting out across the West in search of answers, forgiveness, understanding, and release is a bittersweet and, at times, very touching film.

It is also a powerful snapshot of real friendship, warts and all, and how it weathers disappointment but is resilient enough to withstand a few hiccups in the road.

The film stars Jennifer Stone as Mads and Mindy Bledsoe as Junior. Mads is longing to understand why her mother abandoned her, as Junior is processing grief over the loss of her sister. Mads deals with Type 1 diabetes issues is slightly ahead of Junior in the growing up game, and Junior is beset by pain nobody really understands but is always present nonetheless. Time for a road trip!

Many of us use the cathartic all-American car trip therapy to think things out as we are distracted by new sights, sounds, and a carefree albeit temporary freedom from our day-to-day life.

Heading to Portland from Los Angeles, they plan to recreate the road trip that Junior’s late sister took, and then together they visit Mads’ fully realized adult, employed brother in Portland. He’s the grown-up in this teleplay.

Mads must first head to South Dakota to renew her driver’s license, and Junior is ready to pay respect to her late sister on the way. Except, plans change, and it doesn’t go down very well between the two girls. Mads’ brother Miles (Rane Jameson) has found their long-lost mother, and a new wrinkle in the trip emerges, not inclusive of Junior. He has inserted himself in their odyssey, diverting Mads away from Junior as the word of where their mother who left them as kids is revealed. Mads is now set on facing this demon despite the plans Junior has outlined in her own mental health quest.

There’s a bit of Thelma and Louise, a bit of She’s In Portland, and a sprinkle of Romy and Michele with the ping-ponging girl banter, altered state singalongs, and besties drinking and partying out the painful moments.

If you fall asleep in a bathtub fully clothed with your bestie, you likely have many deep connections that a simple trip alteration won’t permanently erase.

This film celebrates that messy, imperfect, and delightfully flawed depth of friendship we all need to have in our lives that waxes and wanes but cements people through friendship droughts when you see someone again, and time stood still. Those are the best friendships, and Mads and Junior have it. They are just maturing emotionally at different rates.

The In-Between is an authentic sounding, feeling, and fully female-centric look at how women can compartmentalize pain, mental and physical, and how they tolerate it and just deal. Much more so than men in this reviewer’s unscientific opinionated opinion.

The trip is bumpy, the company is entertaining, and you root for them both to get some closure and reconnect down the lane. You know they will. It’s just a matter of time.

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April Neale

April Neale is an entertainment writer and television critic. Neale has read her work both on NPR and 'Spoken Interludes', and has previously written for various industry trades and entertainment websites. Neale has written for Monsters and Critics since 2003, and is an editor and main contributor to the TV, Film and Culture (formerly Lifestyle) sections.