The first thing one notices about the short film The Dark Between Us is that it is photographed like an ad for a luxury skincare brand. Ruhi (Piyali Syam) delicately dances around a well-kept and modern New York City apartment as though she is lost in the luxuriousness of her skin. Amar (Vick Krishna) looks lasciviously on as Ruhi dances, pouring the two each a glass of wine. The music playing on the soundtrack reminds one of the types of ambient music you might hear on a five-star hotel welcome channel.
After one-gulping her glass of wine, Ruhi stares at Amar and asks, “Where is she? Your wife.” It is now clear that these two are in some sort of extramarital confrontation. But this is not the sort of conversation that a scorned lover might initiate; it’s something more profound and darker. Ruhi is adamant that something nefarious happened to Amar’s wife on the return ferry trip from an island the two had been visiting. Amar assures Ruhi that his wife is fine and insists she is being delusional. She responds that she is, in fact, not delusional and accuses Amar of having killed his wife. So what happened on the ferry? Where is Amar’s wife? What does Ruhi have to do with her disappearance?
“Ruhi is adamant that something nefarious happened to Amar’s wife on the return ferry trip…“
The Dark Between Us intrigues the audience with its central premise of the missing wife and Amar’s perhaps warped recollection of what happened on the ferry. Then writer-director-editor Nikhil Kamkolkar throws us a curveball that ultimately raises more questions than he has time to answer. Is the film a claustrophobic drama about a couple confronting the man’s infidelity? A thriller investigating the mystery surrounding a possibly murdered woman? An examination of a woman’s tenuous grip on reality? There’s a lot to unpack in Kamkolkar’s short that cannot be adequately handled in less than nine minutes.
Krishna and Syam work off each other well, even though they are reciting dialogue that is written and they are acting as though for an audition. The small but Contempo apartment and nighttime New York City setting suit the material’s dark and brooding mood, with the blurred lights of the city reflected in the apartment windows. It is evident that Kamkolkar had his eye on a sort of noir-ish mystery but bit off a bit more than he could chew in this particular format. If he were to expand the scope of the film, he might be able to more deeply explore some of the concepts he addresses, such as infidelity, relationship dynamics, and greed. As it is, The Dark Between Us provides an atmospheric but confusing exercise in short-form contemporary film noir.
"…Krishna and Syam work off each other well..."