Fantastic Fest Review: 'Between Worlds' (2018)
A Man Without a Truck Isn't a Man
In Between Worlds, Nicolas Cage portrays a sleazy truck driver named Joe. Despite the half a dozen rings Joe wears on each hand along with the 20 bracelets on each wrist, Joe isn’t having the best of times financially; he’s on the verge of having his 18-wheeler repossessed and he can’t get his boss to pay him more than twenty bucks at a time. While shoving a gas station hot dog down his throat, Joe stumbles onto a woman named Julie (Franka Potente) being choked in one of the stalls in the men’s bathroom and thinks he does the right thing by saving her.
However, Julie is attempting to rekindle an out of body experience she’s been able to have whenever her life is threatened and since she was a little girl. Julie is attempting to keep her daughter Billie’s (Penelope Mitchell) essence safe while her vessel recuperates in the hospital from a motorcycle accident. After Billie is well enough to come home and Joe has begun seeing Julie romantically, it’s soon revealed that Joe’s dead wife Mary (Lydia Hearst) has been reincarnated in Billie’s body.
Between Worlds is a laughably bad Nicolas Cage film. He wears a leather jacket, what looks like matching pleather pants, a camo trucker hat, a grimy looking wife beater, and stringy long hair that looks like it was treated with bacon grease. Cage sports an impressive trucker body in the film as well with a giant beer gut any man would be envious of. What’s funny is that Between Worlds is built around this uncomfortable love triangle between Joe, a mother, a daughter, and Joe’s dead wife, but that apparently means having as much on-clothes sex as possible. Cage has so many bad sex scenes in this that you can’t help but laugh. This is what movie watching has come to.
The rest of the film is mostly Billie walking around her own house like a peeping tom while she snoops on her mom having sex with Joe. Things get dumb quick once Billie tells Joe who she really is. Joe attempts to be the good guy in this, but comes off as a total sleaze ball. He basically ruins the relationship between a mother and a daughter and never really apologizes for it. Spoiler warning here, but he basically runs off to die in his own crazy after he remembers that, “Oh, I had a daughter that died, too.” The supernatural thriller attempts to build tension between Joe, Julie, and Billie but Franka Potente stumbles on her own accent that she can’t keep constant for more than a scene at a time and Penelope Mitchell is conspicuous in all the wrong ways as she struggles to accurately portray either of the two roles trapped within her talentless carcass.
When seeing the outline of Nicolas Cage’s balls in leopard print underwear is the highlight of a film, then you’ve done something wrong especially when you’ve got an array of madness at your disposal with Cage as the lead in your film. The storyline over-complicates a simple concept and turns it into this foolish marathon of the entire cast trying to out-dumb one another. It also seems to fall victim to blatantly obvious clichés like the one African American nurse at the hospital coincidentally sounds like Miss Cleo as soon as she opens her mouth and knows all the rules to the afterlife.
Between Worlds is absurd and humorous for all the wrong reasons and it feels like a bad movie that is dead set on ruining whatever good you want to have with it. Nic Cage portrays a guy who wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t really know how because his dick overpowers his heart at every turn. His performance is more nuanced than it has any right to be as an off-the-handle and completely unrestrained Cage with a bouncing beer gut probably would have made Between Worlds great. Instead, you’re left with this stench that smells like chunky motor oil and darkened regurgitated cooking oil that Nic Cage’s clothes and body hair were likely drenched with during the making of Between Worlds. The film may be worthwhile to hardcore Nic Cage fans, but is otherwise a sleazy, run of the mill truck stop that makes you feel unclean at the thought of stopping at it.
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© 2018 Chris Sawin