Director David Ocañas and co-writer Robert Nelms have made possible a somewhat simple and straightforward metaphysical film. Simple as it could have been, the plot is made unnecessarily complicated for the sake of dramatic and suspensive effects. There is a handful of psycho-philosophical ideas but not many well-developed. Yet, the movie is successful to some extent. Still, the film hangs from a thread so delicate like that of a ripen apple on a tree.
What is someone thinking when he or she is dying? Without giving up the end of the movie which in reality, as in unfinished dreams, paradoxically starts where it begins, David Ocañas directs a film which happens to be a somewhat good exercise in the inimitable Alfred Hitchcock classic suspense or the Psycho-liked psychological thrillers. That is how the movie is successful. Not only that, the scriptwriters had in the back of their mind, or perhaps in front of them, the film Six Sense where a child says, "I see death people." Or better yet, the director was supported by the works of the great Czech writer Kafka. This is case of memorable art. But there is also artwork that is like a bad dream and one wants to assure oneself that it never happened. I vividly remember Joseph K., who we know nothing of, who has just come from a distant town to a mysterious and new city in search of something that we, detail by detail, get to know. He has come to let himself in the castle who symbolizes what Between couldn't make justice to the problem of reality, of death and dying, and of the metaphysical anguish of being alone in this godless world. The city of Tijuana and its visitors are a bad parody of The Castle.
Further, I believe that directors like Hitchcock or the Wachowski brothers can be almost imitated by good film maker. But it is a desperate and overwhelming task that of imitating great literature in cinematographic scenes. And everything is worth seeing in Between. We can see, for example, that literature is insuperable and that films are for entertainment. Even well-intentioned films can't portray what good literature portraits: men and women caught between one thing or another, whether it is human emotions or the never ending problem between the divine and human, reality and dreams, good and evil, innocence and guilt.
Despite its shortcomings, could I say that I like it? The movie tries to depict life after death, or between here and there. A movie like Between makes a serious theme like the after death experience a common place and makes it no more than forgettable entertainment. Did I like Between because the movie beings where it ends, with a barefooted woman, walking towards her immortality? After this scene, the mystery supposedly begins: there is a woman who when either when alive had an identity problem or is dreaming all the scenes while agonizing. Is there anything new in having a woman go on a journey (in real life, she wouldn't make too far into the city of Tijuana without falling prey to the real demons surrounding big and furious cities) looking for a sister whom, according to clues in form of clichés, does not exist. From the beginning I suspected that she only exists in the mysterious visions of the dying woman.
Dreams and reality, being caught between death and life, are subjects that need to be taken separately if one is serious enough to examine them. That is not one of the discoveries of Between; it fabricates a mind-twisting mystery, only to unravel it (mysteries that are deep inside ourselves can never be decipher and that is the beautiful human experience) and discover that it was only a psychological break down of a woman near the end of her life.
Also, the reality in Tijuana is not what is being portrayed in Between. What is a beautiful woman doing in a desert almost without being noticed, first wearing a plain white dress and after that wearing a plain red dress? We all know that it can only happens in dreams. But good movies who play with black and color, with dreams and reality, are successful at making the dreams seem real, so that one is almost certain that the dream is as true as reality seems to be.
As a psychological film, Between wouldn't even had made Freud proud. Is the meaning of death deciphered by having dreams or visions and revisions of a lost sister? I think this phenomenon should now be called the Sister-complex. In contrast the Matrix, even when it felt short of being aesthetic acceptable great works of art imitate nature and not machines was much more accurate than what Between tried to depict. Between is a theory that never let us see any evidence to support the claim that dreams, and mind-made mysteries are part of the dying experience. On the other hand, Between would have sadden the french philosopher Descartes who claimed that the mind can live without the mind.
When it comes to sound and picture, I can say that all was astonishing. In most movies there is no suspense without sounds. These tricks benefited this film. I dare to say, after all, that I liked the clues that keep the moviegoer wondering. First it is Valentines' day. There is a letter found inside the zinc pipe. A bus and collection of clocks, repetition of phrases and scenes. And there is the woman-Oracle, who is directly taken from The Matrix.
I believe that the greatest achievement of this movie is its impeccable déjà Vu. It reminded me of all good and bad movies I have ever seen. Perhaps that is a good thing. And in the mind of moviegoer, Between will soon be nothing else but a pleasant déjà Vu.
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