For all the talking that occurs in the tedious drama "Between Us," little of substance is actually said. What's left is an unpleasant visit with a pair of hateful married couples who, in due time, prove mirror images of one another. Symmetry has rarely been so dispiriting.
Although producer-director Dan Mirvish, who co-wrote with Joe Hortua (based on Hortua's play), tries to open up the film with sporadic flashbacks and outdoor moments, it remains a stagey chamber piece with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" pretensions.
The story ping-pongs between two game-changing encounters. The first finds nicely bonded New York bohemians Grace (Julia Stiles) and Carlo (Taye Diggs) visiting upscale old friends — and new, first-time parents — Joel (David Harbour) and Sharyl (Melissa George) at the latter's Midwest McMansion where the "for worse" part of their marriage vows are playing out. Flash-forward to Manhattan a few years later where Joel and Sharyl, now on surer marital footing, surprise-visit Grace and Carlo, currently embattled due to crushing debt and the stress of a newborn. Suffice to say, the vitriol that goes down in both scenarios won't win any new converts to the institution of marriage — or of friendship.
The performers fully commit to their unlikable parts but, at least as written, even the best actors couldn't create compelling, relatable characters out of this messed-up bunch.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: At the Downtown Independent, Los AngelesCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun