Just Between Us is a dry comedy which owes a lot to Schnitzler’s matchless La Ronde, as it follows the fortunes of a group of people all of whom are, according to their respective degrees of seperation, romantically involved with one another. At the script’s heart is the character of Nikola, played by the charismatic Predrag Manojlovic. He is a wealthy married man who leads a double life, with a long-term lover and child living in the same city. He visits her when he is supposed to be abroad on business trips, and their shared joke is that they are in Munich or Oslo or Dubai, or wherever it is he has claimed to be.
There’s something slightly tenuous about this and the narrative often has the feeling of having been fleshed out with the use of Venn Diagrams or an Excel Spreadsheet. Of greater interest, perhaps, is the way in which the film offers a sideways and warm-hearted look at life in the Croatian capital. The angst of the nineties is hinted at, when Nikola mentions how he had to flee to the States, but now these characters are thoroughly integrated into a modern (pre-crash) Europe. The apolitical nature of the film seems almost a declaration of intent: we too can make fuzzy romantic comedies, along the lines of Hollywood or Richard Curtis.
Manojlovic played the father in Kustirica’s When Father Was Away On Business, before the nation state of Croatia even existed. His doleful face seems to carry the wear and tear of history, but it’s all below the surface, hidden away in a locked drawer in his character’s designer apartment. Now that history is done and dusted, serious time can be dedicated to frolicking and romantic escapades; the eternal wheel of duplicitous shenanigans can resume its remorseless grind.