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Thursday, January 8th, 2015

What’s Between Us aka Unter Der Haut

Alice and Frank have been married for 18 years and are moving with their three children (and Taski their pet rabbit) to a new apartment in the Swiss countryside. From the outside they seem like the perfect nuclear family but as they arrange their furniture and settle into their new home, Alice notices that her husband seems far from excited about being there and is in fact positively distracted.  When she prods him about this, Frank simply denies that anything is wrong but she is far from convinced with his protestations.
 
During the next week when she is at home working on the computer the whole family share, an unfamiliar window suddenly pops up on the screen. It’s a ‘welcome back’ message from a gay cruising site for men to meet men.  An alarmed Anna nervously questions Robert her teenage son about the site and his sexuality, something which he just laughs off and tells her categorically he is 100% straight. When she questions Frank if it was him who had been on the Site, she got the answer that she had expected but certainly didn’t want.
 
Frank confesses that he was simply curious about other men, but Anna is not happy to leave it there, and over the next few weeks she continually chips away at him, until he eventually admits he has met a man and they have fallen in love with each other. Shocked and horrified Anna tries almost everything to understand her husband’s sexuality.  Initially she is calm and overly considerate, but then after they go out on a ‘date’ together she sets about physically seducing Frank which totally backfires and she is devastated when he rejects her sexual advances.
 
The no-turning back point comes courtesy of the computer again when Anna is viewing the photographs she has downloaded from a family trip when she accidentally comes across a video that someone has obviously shot on Frank’s phone.  It shows her husband dancing with Pablo his boyfriend amongst a crowd of other men and it is very clear that he is radiantly happy in a way that he has not been with her since they first get married.
Frank by now is staying out late most nights but although he still has very genuine feelings with Anna, the real reason he continues to come home is that their 7 year old daughter dotes on him.   When one final attempt at seducing him back fails, Anna demands that he leaves for good.
 
Bereft of the husband and feeling isolated in the country apartment a rather confused and depressed Anna dramatically takes to her bed crying her eyes out and refusing to eat for days on end.  Her two teenage children take charge of both her and their young sibling, until Anna finally realizes the helplessness of refusing to accept the change that has been heaped upon her. When she does take that on board, repaints the apartment, buys some new furniture, get a more contemporary hairstyle, and most importantly gets laid again, then life can finally move and everybody can happily ever after.  Almost.
 
This taut wee Swiss drama neatly tackles the age-old problem of a marriage trying to survive when it becomes obvious that one of the partners should never had said ‘I do’ in the first place.  It’s hard enough for women to accept that men in their life can be gay or bi-sexual but when they discover that their own partner is suddenly questioning their own sexuality after being married for so long, its usually quite devastating.  Although newbie director and co-writer Claudia Lorenz says nothing new about this scenario, her take on this is compelling and very real, thanks mainly to her very talented cast.


Posted by queerguru  at  21:22

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Genres:  drama, international

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