SXSW 2024: The In Between – promises more than it delivers

Credit Robie Flores

The world premiere of ‘The In Between’ at SXSW 2024 was highly anticipated. It promised an intimate exploration of grief, nostalgia, and life along the U.S.-Mexico border. Directed by Robie Flores, who returned to her hometown of Eagle Pass, Texas, the documentary aimed to capture the essence of everyday existence in a unique cultural pocket. However, while the film certainly had moments of sincerity and emotional resonance, it ultimately fell short of delivering a compelling cinematic experience for wider audiences.

At its core, ‘The In Between’ sought to grapple with the complexities of loss and memory, particularly after Flores’ brother Marcelo’s passing. Marcelo’s own camera footage, seamlessly integrated into the narrative, attempted to explore questions of preservation and the passage of time. Yet, despite these noble intentions, the documentary often felt more like a personal family video than a cohesive exploration of universal themes.

One of the film’s strengths lay in its portrayal of life in Eagle Pass, with Flores skillfully capturing the nuances of adolescent existence against the backdrop of the border. Scenes of fishing trips on the Rio Grande and teenage girls sharing their hopes and fears were rendered with a sense of intimacy and authenticity. However, while these vignettes offered glimpses into the rich tapestry of border-town life, they often needed more depth and resonance to sustain a feature-length documentary.

Moreover, ‘The In Between’ struggled to transcend its niche subject matter, focusing heavily on the filmmaker’s personal journey at the expense of broader thematic exploration. While Flores’ use of Marcelo’s handheld camera lent the film a lived-in feel reminiscent of home movies, it also contributed to a sense of insularity, preventing the documentary from genuinely engaging with the complexities of life on the border.

While ‘The In Between’ is undeniably a heartfelt and sincere effort, it ultimately fails to deliver the kind of impactful storytelling needed to resonate with a wider audience. Though it offers moments of poignancy and reflection, the documentary’s lack of depth and focus leaves viewers wanting more. As a result, while’ The In Between’ may hold special significance for those intimately familiar with its subject matter, it ultimately struggles to transcend its status as a personal family portrait.

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