Between the Fire and the Stars (2016) – By Philip Smolen


A young man (Kyle Ensrude) who is a new father sits forlornly at a bar. Stepping out into an alley, he sees a young boy in a coonskin cap (Hal Weilandgruber). Then when he is at home in bed, he thinks he sees the boy again. He then follows the lad into the woods where he comes across a bacchanal led by Dionysus (Tyler J. Haugen) who warns the young man not to follow the boy. But the young man ignores the warning. He follows the boy to a field where he finds him playing around an unmarked grave. But who is this mysterious young man and why does the new father feel compelled to follow him?

“Between the Fire and the Stars” is an esoteric 15 minute short film from writer/director (and star) Kyle Ensrude. And while he never directly explains the relationship between the two main characters, there are several possibilities. Is the young man searching for his inner child who is represented by the boy? And is this new father following the boy in an attempt to recapture his innocence and youth? Or is the young lad leading the man away from his childlike ways into fatherhood?

The film is well made but emotionally uninvolving. Because of the film’s brevity, it’s impossible to tell what kind of person the young man is. Is he merely confused about life or is he running away from his responsibilities? There’s no way to know, so it’s tough to really care about his situation. “Between the Fire and the Stars” is a 15 minute metaphysical meditation on youth and fatherhood that is both strange and mysterious. But this strangeness only succeeds in distancing the viewer from the hero’s plight, and that’s unfortunate.

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