After eighteen years of marriage, Alice finds herself confronted with the fact that her husband Frank feels more and more attracted to men. Not only Frank, but also she and their three children undergo an irreversible change.
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Frank and Alice move to the countryside with their children. The change of scenery was necessary and it also looks like it was fruitful at first - especially because the 18-year-old marriage of theirs gets peppy again. But as the family comes in, she realizes that he is undergoing a change, that she seems to be hiding something. When she encounters dating portals for gays in the browser, she first believes that her teenage son has visited the pages - but then she realizes that Frank is the one with the unfulfilled desires. Only slowly can she elicit the truth from him, and then she would rather not know. Then he falls in love with another man, Pablo. She does not know how to handle it. Can she prevent her marriage from failing?Written by
This movie is significant for a couple of reasons. Ursina Lardi, so impressive in Michael Haneke's 'The White Ribbon' and Cate Shortland's 'Lore' gives a truly wonderful and at times guttural performance as the wife in 'What's Between Us'. Not knowing much about it before the screening, I did suspect it would not be the conventional coming out narrative. The filmmakers and screenwriters have provided a twist so that the question of where the audience's sympathies lie & which character should one favor is the conundrum.
The film is measured and moves at its own pace; choosing when to ramp up the drama; and when to provide meaningful observations and character insight. This makes for a fascinating, but not overly melodramatic piece. As the husband, coming to terms with who he is, Dominique Jann is suitably sensitive and fragile. The early scenes with his on screen children are charming and telling. The casting of the 3 young actors to play the offspring is spot on. Three wonderfully different and unique characters who bring much heart and soul and surprising maturity to the proceedings. But the film belongs to Ursina Lardi. Her beautiful expressive face is used to great effect, but so is her body.It is, pardon the pun, a fully fleshed character portrait; testament to the actor's skill and the director's deft hand. The myriad of emotions are so naturally on display and the actress relishes the text and the sub text of the screenplay; giving the film its moral and existential centre.
Director Claudia Lorenz makes her feature debut with this as well as her co-writing credit for 'What's Between Us'. With a powerful breakthrough like this, I look forward to seeing what this Swiss storyteller brings to the world of cinema in the future.
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