This teen romantic tragedy aims to up the ante on a familiar genre with grander artistic aspirations, more sophisticated characters, and supernatural elements.
If the seriousness works, it's thanks to King's and Allen's acting in The In Between. They avoid hitting false notes, and the script veers clear of too-obvious stereotypes (the "jock" and the "artist").
It does try a tad too hard to depict the pair of high school seniors as sophisticated beyond their years, speaking multiple languages, enjoying French cinema, debating British fiction, snapping artsy black-and-white photos, and attending gallery openings.
The pretensions are passable because they fit with the characters' backstories and are woven into their love story, not just introduced and dropped. The pair is also contrasted against other, more typical teens, but there's a refreshing lack of obnoxious portrayals here too.
Tessa has a literal broken heart when Skylar dies, confirming her long-held belief that love never lasts. She keeps people at arm's length, hiding behind her camera. We learn this through a back-and-forth narrative counting down to Skylar's fatal accident and following her grief-fueled insistence afterwards that he's still trying to communicate with her.
A couple of these scenes are chill-inducing, but the film isn't scary and doesn't aim to be. It is, however, noticeably visually dark at moments, for example in the movie theater, the darkroom, an abandoned hotel, and at night. Tessa's loss is processed in a protracted spiritual meeting with Skylar in the afterlife "in between" (complete with a Parisian rendezvous, faintly echoing La La Land's dreamlike post-script). She discovers life is actually worth living after all.
It's a positive message viewers can feel good about, even through tears.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.