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The In Between Review: Growing Up, Grieving Well

Two girls lie next to each other on an orange blanket with their eyes closed in the documentary film The In Between

The In Between is a heart-stirring journey which ponders the joy and pain of adolescence and the ongoing struggle of finding joy in the midst of grief.

“Maybe it was never about memory for Marcelo, but about being present, looking at life more intently.

Life in Eagle Pass, Texas, which borders Mexico, is teeming with culture and strong community. In her documentary, The In Between, Robie Flores relives her childhood with renewed sincerity. The film documents life at Eagle Pass, the joys and growing pains of adolescence, the beauty of celebrating heritage, and the ongoing struggle of grieving the loss of Flores’ brother, Marcelo.

The In Between is a heart-stirring journey. Flores ponders meaningful questions and endeavors to share her answers with us in this beautifully shot and edited documentary. It is not simply a story about life at the Mexico/U.S. border, or growing up within Spanish heritage, or discovering the memories Marcelo captured on film, but a thoughtful combination of all of these things and more. It chooses wisely to eschew long interview moments typical to documentaries, and instead utilizes Flores’ point of view to make the experience more introspective.

One of the most profound revelations in this film is that grief and growing up have something in common: neither are a linear process. Anyone who has lost a loved one may testify that moments of sorrow come in waves at unpredictable moments. It could be decades removed from their passing, but grief still finds a way in. The same might be said of growing up; no one is fully prepared for life by the time they reach adulthood. We all grow up with dreams and hopes and regrets, and The In Between posits a stark revelation for Flores that we all may resonate with: reliving memories and processing grief can’t change the past, but it can change the future. Life isn’t about moving on from grief or growth, but doing both well.

With slow shots of buzzing streets in Eagle Pass and the running waters of the Rio Grande river, Flores says, “what did it look like to grow up here?” The next hour or so documents what Flores experienced, though her outlook is more appreciative and contemplative than during her childhood. The In Between is, in part, a coming-of-age story for Flores; but it is quite different because Flores relives her childhood vicariously this time through friends, family, and students in her community. A young girls’ dance competition, a quinceañera, and high school graduation are examples of small but powerful moments in the lives of people living in Eagle Pass.

Three boys in the woods looking up in the documentary film The In Between
The In Between (Ambiente Films / SXSW 2024)

The documentary says much about filmmaking. Marcelo and Flores both wanted to be filmmakers, but had different outlooks on the art. As Flores grieves the loss of her brother, she finds video footage he shot and recalls what joy he brought to her life. The film includes some of this footage, and she narrates her thoughts on grief and life over it. These moments are profoundly impactful, encapsulating the heart of Flores as she ponders her own life. Flores makes movies to capture memories, but realizes that Marcelo made them to live in the moment.

Ultimately, The In Between is a stark reminiscion on life in Eagle Pass. It asks deep questions about coming of age, culture, and grief, and is brave enough to leave some of them unanswered. Robie Flores’ story is personal but resonant, and viewers will walk away with profound inspiration to seek joy in the midst of life’s most difficult moments.

The In Between will be screened at SXSW on March 9-15, 2024. Read our SXSW reviews and our list of films to watch at SXSW 2024!

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