September 9, 2019  (Web Review)

Between the Lines

Cohen, 101 min., R, DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Joan Micklin Silver’s 1977 ensemble piece about the reporters and staff members of an alternative weekly newspaper in Boston undergoing a rocky transition is a landmark of sorts of American independent filmmaking. The character-based comedy-drama stars John Heard as the star reporter whose most provocative work is behind him, Lindsay Crouse as the paper’s photographer (and Heard’s on-again, off-again girlfriend), Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric rock critic (he provides the comic relief with his antics and off-the-cuff comments), and Jill Eikenberry as the receptionist and “beating heart of the paper,” who still believes in the progressive ideals and journalistic ambitions that launched the project years ago. All of the actors were up-and-coming talents when the film premiered, along with fellow cast members Bruno Kirby, Gwen Welles, Joe Morton, and Marilu Henner, and their characters exhibit unexpected dimensions and sometimes frustrating contradictions. Between the Lines is quite the time capsule, recalling an era of independent weekly newspapers and investigative journalism that challenged the more conservative approach of daily news. And the central drama remains timely, as thirtysomething professionals ruminate about lost idealism while being forced to make a choice when the independent paper is sold to a media company. The film also anticipates the increasingly successful American indie era of small, smart films built on character-based stories, from sex, lies and videotape to Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. Recently restored, the film debuts on DVD and Blu-ray with a new Q&A with filmmaker Silver. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)