It is when we see a movie like “The In-Between” that the question at the back of our heads comes to the forefront: Is romance dead as a genre? There is nothing wrong with Arie Posin’s film per se. It has really adorable leads, and we are certainly in love with Skylar, played by Kyle Allen, and his puppy dog eyes. While Tessa, played by Joey King, does her part well, and we empathize with her when we are not cringing at the repetition of her character, it is only for Skylar and his sweet, innocent charm that we give this story a whole two hours.
‘The In-Between’ Plot Summary: What Is The Story About?
The movie starts with the scene of an accident, with Tessa and Skylar lying injured and unconscious on the road. Tessa is taken to the hospital, where she undergoes crucial surgery, and when she wakes up, she is made aware of the fact that Skylar died in that accident. From this point on, “The In-Between” alternates between two timelines: one before the accident and one after. We will be describing it a little more linearly.
Tessa is a teenager with a tragic past. Her dad bailed on her family when she was a child, and her mother was never fully there for her. When her mother died, Tessa was taken up by the foster care system before eventually being adopted by Mel, who was her mother’s ex-fiancé, and his wife, Vicki. Because of the instability of her childhood and the need to be constantly on guard, Tessa is a person who believes that the people she loves will eventually leave her and is scared of falling in love because of it. She is a photographer, though she doesn’t like sharing her art with anyone.
Skylar, on the other hand, is a popular jock who knows a number of languages because of his father’s being a linguistics professor. He comes from the school of thought that says love never dies and that you shouldn’t give up on your feelings. This is the reason he is taking the separation from his parents so hard. He is attached to his family and is finding it hard to accept the fact that they will not be together.
Tessa and Skylar meet at a movie theatre for the screening of a French film, “Betty Blue.” The movie does not have subtitles, so Skylar helps her watch it by translating it for her. They have that spark of attraction and seem to share some common interests in literature and art, but they part before they can find out more about each other or make further plans. Both have assumed that they would not be able to meet again when, a few weeks later, at a boat rowing competition where Tessa has gone as a photographer, she sees Skylar. As they talk, Tessa comes to know that Skylar had looked for her all over the internet and that he liked her as much as she liked him. She tells him that she would love for them to spend some time together.
Their first date involves them talking about Tessa’s photography and her taking him to the Empyrean, a fictional place where Dante met God. This is where they share their first kiss. When Skylar drops her off at home, he tells her that he will be back for the summer and hopes to spend it with her, to which she agrees. The viewer here understands that Tessa likes him but is extremely scared of getting hurt.
Over the course of the summer, Skylar and Tessa talk about everything: their lives, insecurities, views on love and life, and everything in between. During one of their dates, Skylar tells her that he loves her, though Tessa is hesitant to say it back. This causes some noticeable tension between them when Tessa kisses Skylar in an effort to reassure him, which leads to them getting intimate for the first time.
The story of “The In-Between” then moves to both of them going to a photography exhibit where Tessa sees that one of her photographs, which she had gifted to Skylar, is up on display and for sale. She gets upset over it, which leads to a fight between the two of them. Skylar wants her to pursue her dream of going to RISD so that they can be together when he goes to Brown. She tells him that he needs to stop trying to fix things like his parents’ marriage or even her, which are beyond repair.
A few days later, as both of them are about to reconcile, Tessa comes to know that Skylar could be moving to Oregon, which means that they would be living at opposite ends of the country. This piece of news brings back all of her insecurities, and she breaks up with Skylar.
As Skylar desperately tries to get in touch with Tessa, her friend Shannon tells her that she wishes Tessa would fight as hard for her life as she does for her art. Tessa realizes that she has been running away from Skylar, and she does not want to do that anymore. She goes to find him before he leaves the town, which is when their accident happens.
What Happens With Tessa After The Accident?
After the accident, Tessa meets a woman in the hospital named Doris, who tells her about the place called the “in-between,” which is like a waiting room for the dead before they depart for the afterlife. Tessa already believes that Skylar is trying to contact her, but she is not quite sure. She is told by the doctor and her friend that this is a way of processing the grief. Her teacher tells her that she should focus on her RISD application to take her mind off things, and Mel tells her that she is exactly like her mother, who gives up on things.
Every time she receives such advice, we can’t help feeling how disconnected our well-wishes can be from other people’s grief. But coming back to the story, Tessa becomes sure of Skylar’s presence when she captures his spirit through a series of photographs, though they turn black immediately. Shannon doesn’t believe her when she tells her this, but an incident of all the phones ringing in the mock SAT exam makes her trust Tessa.
The spirit of Skylar further guides Tessa to take photographs of herself, hoping to capture him in them. She goes to the Empyrean, where she finally manages to see him. When she gets home, Tessa is confronted by Mel and Vicki for stealing the latter’s credit card to buy camera equipment. The fight causes her to rupture the stitches in her heart and fall back unconscious. When she is taken to the hospital, she is about to tell the doctor that she can’t stay in the hospital because she has to tell Skylar that she loves him, something she did not get to do when he was alive, but she loses consciousness before she can get the words out.
However, she breaks out of the hospital with the help of Shannon and the spirit of Skylar, and they make their way back to the accident site. As she falls unconscious again, she remembers that she met Skylar before he left and apologized for pushing him away. Not only that, she confessed to him that she loved him, which means that he did know.
‘The In-Between’ Ending Explained – Does Tessa Live?
As Tessa is taken back to the hospital, her spirit is with Skylar, as if they were doing all the things they wanted to do together. Back in the hospital, the doctor says that Tessa must want to live for her to wake up from her coma, to which Skylar tells Tessa to go back and give them a happy ending.
The scene cuts to Tessa waking up from surgery and accepting that she is going to live her life now. A few weeks later, after she has made her recovery, Tessa has a much better relationship with her parents and is on her way to RISD to present her photographs. “The In-Between” ends with her talking about accepting the ghosts of her life instead of keeping them out and what being happy has come to mean for her.
This is the ending of a complicated journey of learning to let love in. Vicki says in one of the scenes- “When you protect yourself from the lows, you also miss out on the highs.” And when it comes to love and life, the highs make the lows worth it. Yes, Tessa was hurt by the uncertainty of love, but she was loved nonetheless, and that will always stay with her. Accepting her past and understanding her present without constantly fighting them was her lesson that gave her the peace and security that she had been looking for. And maybe that made the pain of the broken heart worth it.
Come to think of it, “The In-Between” is a sweet movie that we would have liked if everything did not feel so repetitive. As we said before, there is nothing wrong with the movie, except that it’s just been done before. Our only take away from it is that we want to see more of Kyle Allen. Other than that, we have to assume that this is probably as good as it can get for romance on-screen now.
“The In-Between” is a 2022 Romance Drama film directed by Arie Posin.