Life and Death, Joy and Grief


As the title suggests, the new film The In Between is about borders: the borders we cross to get to each other and, geographically, the border between Mexico and Eagle Pass, Texas, the hometown of director Robie Flores. Having studied film at NYU, she returned there after the passing of her younger brother Marcelo (Mars). She may have intended her film to be a meditation on loss, but The In Between ends up being much more. In her quest for what was, what is, and what will be, Ms. Flores has produced one of the most poignant visual poems in recent memory.

“I didn’t want to dream that Mars was still here,” Ms. Flores says. “I was terrified to wake up to relive the shock every day.” Yet she goes.

Ms. Flores canvases the town, recording it all as if it might vanish. She wants to depict the “lifetime of ordinary adventures,” documenting Latino family life: kids stringing together balloons for a birthday party, a father and daughter learning a dance in their kitchen, a bunch of boys kibbitzing on a shoreline. People laugh, gossip, bond. A storm suddenly rips through an amusement park. Though she herself had no fifteenth birthday quinceañera (she opted to travel instead), she witnessed the preparations for that of another girl with detail and affection.

Ms. Flores is patient beyond her years. She waits. She lingers long enough to be trusted (or unheeded) by her subjects and is party to charmingly unguarded moments, like an interlude with two girls who drew each other in a “best friend” lottery in first grade and have been together ever since. One serene pan of the coastline at daybreak lasts a full two minutes (doesn’t seem long? Time it.)

Filmmaking runs in the Flores family: Robie enlists her brother Alex (Mars’ surviving twin) to see things she doesn’t. The siblings have different approaches: Alex gets right in there, and Robie uses her camera as an “invisibility cloak.” Adhering to an old rule of social etiquette, “Quiet girls look prettier,” she narrates sparingly. We catch glimpses of her as a shadow silhouette against a wall, following the action, her camera an appendage.

The In Between is delightfully DIY. It’s compiled of new footage, casual clips from school and New York, and old family VHS tapes. While filming, Robie and Alex discover a cache of hard drives on which Mars himself stored video files. In that way, he becomes a presence in absentia.

The Flores are part of a movement known as “Border New Wave,” Fronterizo filmmakers who take on challenging narratives about communities on the periphery.

The act of crossing over from Mexico to the US plays a role in The In Between, but the film is not political. To Eagle Pass, the bridge is a fact of life. The Rio Grande is a metaphor. Lines of cars queue up to cross as day turns into night. Border patrol cars cruise past mischievous boys playing around a low-slung border wall. A revealing conversation between Robie and Alex happens as a voiceover, the visual being a languid dolly along the columns that buttress the bridge.

The In Between is immersive. It’s like lowering oneself into a warm bath: you are enveloped in the sights and sounds of activity in a vital community. You wish you were there and that “there” would remain forever as it is.


The In Between. Directed by Robie Flores; produced by Alejandro J. Flores. 2024. Produced by ITVS and JustFilms. Presented by Independent Lens/PBS. 84 minutes.

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