Review: In Between

In Between

In Between is astounding, moving and vibrant.

In 2017 the buzz word in the film industry is diversity and In Between is just that – diverse. The director Maysaloun Hamound understands what diversity truly means telling the rarely seen story of Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv from different points of view. It is provocative, moving, joyful as all great art is – it will leave  you astounded.

In Between tells the story of three Palestinian women leading three different lives in Tel Aviv. They are physically and literally between worlds as strangers in a foreign land and women fighting to lead their own version of authentic lives.

The film centres on Leila (Mouna Hawa), Noor (Shaden Kanboura) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) who couldn’t be more different. Leila and Salma are flatmates. Leila a lawyer who parties mixing drinking with the occasional drug use. Salma is a chef in a Jewish restaurant and is wrestling with her parents desire to have her married even though she longs to tell them she is a lesbian. Their world is about to be turned upside down when Noor moves in.  Noor is the good, obedient Muslim girl who is engaged to be married. When Noor suffers a horrific act, the women come together to avenge Noor and also show their defiance. They have the right to be heard, seen and live as equals to men in 2017.

I found it an incredible film and it is rightly generating award buzz. This is not only down to the writer/director but the three lead actresses. Why the film is so startling is Muslim women have never been shown this way on film.  The idea that there are Palestinian women who drink, smoke and go to parties is refreshing to see on film. The only other film of recent time where I have seen similar to this is: As I Open My Eyes (2016) a Tunisian film that showed members of Tunisian youth battling against the oppression and wanting freedom.

The fact that Maysaloun Hamound is the first Palestinian woman in 70 years to have a Fatwa issued against her by the Palestinian State because of debut feature shows the power of art and in particular film to galvanise a cause.

In Between is short and punchy with a run time of about 1h45. The director has a very strong voice. There is no mistaking the message that she wants you to understand here. The pace of the film is good and this is helped by careful editing. The pivotal scene that galvanises the three women when they are all the in bathroom is all the more visceral because it is not softened, it shows starkly the aftermath of rape and the collective strength of women. This is not to say In Between is anti-men because it is not. What it must be seen as is correcting the perceived image of Muslim women that the West has: these women are strong and proud and just like us.

In Between is a must see.  It is released across cinemas in the UK on Friday 22 September.

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