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Movie review: 'Between Us' makes a mess of 2 marriages

David HarbourJulia StilesMelissa GeorgeWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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.

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"Between Us"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles

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David HarbourJulia StilesMelissa GeorgeWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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