Inbetween Girl tells the story of Angie Chen, an American teenage girl dealing with the typical dramas of popularity, boys, sex, and plans after high school. What sets Inbetween Girl apart from your typical coming-of-age drama though is that the story greatly centres around the aftermath of her parents’ divorce and ties deeply into the relationship between her ethnicity and her identity.
Angie’s mother is a white American and her father is Chinese. After the divorce, her father moves on to a Chinese woman whose daughter, Fang, is the stereotypical model student and model minority character. Perfect grades, Stanford student, “pratical” career aspirations are her markers (and everything Angie is seemingly not). Coupled with the fact that she grew up in a household that never spoke Chinese or acknowledged her Asian roots, Angie is stuck in-between cultures and trying to identify which (if either) define her. The film also explores Angie’s experience growing up biracial in an all white school, where the standards of beauty set by her peers show off their racist tendencies. (In fact, she’s even compared to a panda and treated like a dog that was bred for its ‘cute features’.)
Overall, I enjoyed the direction that Inbetween went as well. Angie is in a typical love triangle you see in many coming of age films, yet she has no desire for popularity. Instead, Angie simply wants to just live a good life and find her own identity. By showcasing it through her art, the film shows her personal growth effectively as she finds a way to express what she can’t through dialogue.
Inbetween Girl is now playing at Reel Asian Film Fest ’21