Between the Lines Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: John Heard, Lindsay Crouse, Jeff Goldblum, Jill Eikenberry, Bruno Kirby
  • Director: Joan Micklin Silver
  • Writers: Fred Barron, David Helpern
  • Producer: Raphael D. Silver
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 18, 2019
  • Run Time: 102 minutes

        Between the Lines feels as though it must have had its finger on the pulse of the counter-culture movement of the seventies, while simultaneously serving as an awkward reminder of how much even the liberals and progressives of that time were politically incorrect by today’s standards. The film follows a group of employees working at an alternative newspaper in Boston which is on the verge of a buyout from a major publishing company. Leaning heavily on the idea that selling out means a lack of integrity, Between the Lines feels laughably dated in its sensibilities (which would have been completely dismissed had the film been made a few years later, in the 1980s), but even worse is the awful treatment of female characters amidst the illusion of ‘free love.’ Sadder yet is the fact that this incredibly misogynistic film was directed by the rare female director.

        An ensemble cast of flawed characters makes up the narrative of Between the Lines, with so many characters to split the time between that many suffer as a result. Or perhaps it is their distasteful behavior which makes it difficult to care about many of the storylines (or any at all, because I am hard-pressed to think of a character I enjoyed being in the company of, besides the one Michael J. Pollard plays for simple comedic relief), with sexual infidelity and flat-out abuse is simply portrayed as a passionate sign of the times. If  you enjoy watching people cheat on each other while justifying their actions as morally defensible, a majority of Between the Lines will be up your alley, but don’t look to this film for its depiction of journalism, alternative or not.

        Because the relationships are more important than the work in this film, we essentially only spend time with the newspaper when it affects the relationships of those working (and often sleeping) together. Top reporter Harry (John Heard) is dating the publication’s leading photographer, Abbie (Lindsay Crouse), but their unwillingness to commit to each other inevitably leads to bed-hopping with other employees of the paper. Simultaneously, Michael (Stephen Collins), another former writer of the newspaper, is leaving to write a book. This new success creates jealousy with Harry and conflict with his longtime girlfriend, Laura (Gwen Welles), who is expected to move to New York with him.

        With women being treated as property, abused (physically and emotionally), and cheated on (although the women cheat too), it is pretty hard to believe that a woman directed this film. There seem to be hardly any strong women, and most of the scenes that have no men are still spent talking about them, even in the professional setting. It is a horribly dated film and even the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum in the cast can’t be entirely appreciated due to the sleazy womanizing music critic that he plays. In short, this movie is just a bit too mean-spirited and politically incorrect to survive as anything more than an embarrassing cultural artifact.

        Despite my misgivings about the film, some saw fit to give Between the Lines an all-new restoration and Blu-ray release. There isn’t much in terms of extras, but fans should simply be happy that a film as dated as this was given a 2K restoration and new release. There are two trailers; the original and a new re-release trailer. Also included is a new interview with director Joan Micklin Silver

Entertainment Value: 4.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance:  3/10
Special Features: 3.5/10

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