Mr. Smith: Duchamp, the Big Glass and Chronic Illness
When I first met Dan Mirvish, he was the behind-the-scenes half of hoax political operative Martin Eisenstadt (who was played by actor Eitan Gorlin). And while my mind was kept busy trying to keep journalists like David Shuster from being tricked by Eisenstadt, Mirvish’s mind was busy with thinking about the film “Between Us.” Unfortunately for Mirvish – and many other small filmmakers – the financial crisis began and money for independent films was scarce. Luckily, Mirvish had a built-in bridge in Eisenstadt.
While working to adapt Joe Hortua’s award-winning play, the character of Eisenstadt went viral, with news organizations reporting on his exploits in Iraq (where he “appeared on a talk show” to promote casinos in Baghdad, or his gossip about Kristen Wiig making out with Joe the Plumber at an SNL after party. Mirvish & Gorlin teamed up later to write a book about Eisenstadt’s exploits and unique political views and took some meetings for a possible TV show.
“When Eisenstadt turned into a book offer, I was presented with the option: Do I keep not getting paidto not direct a movie, or get paid to write a book. My wife wisely advised that I write the book,” said Mirvish. “When Eisenstadt more or less ran its course two years later, I recalibrated “Between Us” as a microbudget and went ahead and made it.”
“Between Us,” despite being written for the stage in 2002, was prescient in its views regarding student loan debt and wealth inequality. The story centers on two couples, portrayed by Taye Diggs & Julia Stiles and Melissa George & David Harbour who have all been friends since college.
While each couple faces pressures with marriage and family, the movie becomes a tale of two men and how one’s decision to “sell out” has led to a much more comfortable life. Still, the fact that one couple has means while the other struggles does not translate into happiness, leading to sometimes shocking dialogue such as this exchange between George and Harbour during a fight:
“One day, I’m going to murder you,” he says
“I look forward to it,” she says.
While all the actors give strong performances, it’s Harbour and George who steal the show and, with Mirvish’s direction, give what could be a simple four-person ensemble a depth and passion that will keep a viewer riveted.
For Mirvish, the film is the latest effort in a mercurial career. Having started the popular independent film festival “Slamdance,” and once worked as a speechwriter for Sen. Tom Harkin, Mirvish has earned a reputation of being a true Independent filmmaker – a reputation not hurt by how he scored such a well-known cast for “Between Us” on a minuscule budget.
More than anything, for Mirvish, “Between Us” comes from a place he can recognize.
"It also resonated with me on a more personal level with where I was in my life – dealing with young children, marriage, financial issues, and artistic authenticity,” said Mirvish. “I now have three kids and the issues the characters raise in the film are definitely ones that I can relate to, or have friends who have dealt with them. Thankfully, my marriage is much better than the ones depicted in the film, and my kids are great, too.”
For information on how and where to see “Between Us,” click here.
Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles