As a person I am always up for learning new things. Most of these are fairly trivial, but something that has fascinated me is culture. More accurately, different cultures to my own. I mention this because the culture shown in In Between is one that is very different from my own, yet it is interesting to see how similar it is at the same time. It’s because of this that I think that In Between is a story that could work regardless of what culture the makers decided to show.
In Between is about three young woman who live in the same flat. That is all they have in common. One woman is an independent person, with a good job and positive, if cynical attitude, but is also experimental with men and substances. Another is a lesbian with a minimum wage job, judgmental parents and personal insecurities. The third woman is jobless and eager to please her family, but is engaged to a man who she can’t stand and is very closed off. Throughout the film we follow an unspecified amount of time in these three lives, as we see how they interact with each other, and how they each attempt to grow as individuals but are tested and halted by their culture and the opinions of others.
This works extremely well, given that this culture is as it is to me. The culture itself is unfamiliar, yet I know that the same happens in my culture to those who wish to simply be who they want to be. There is a lot of potential here. Luckily director Maysaloun Hamoud manages to capture most of this potential. This is probably the most realistic film that I have seen in a very long time. There were plenty of stylistic choices that made this film feel real. I know, feeling real is ultimately the goal of any film – even the most absurd and surreal film aims to ground itself by rules to make it accessible. But I mean that this film feels like footage taken of our world. Nothing enormous, saturated, stylized or dulled. Just the world we live in today.
Because of this, In Between can be very hard to watch. This is mostly thanks to an intense scene of homophobia and an unexpected and shocking rape scene. That latter point is the most shocking moment of all because it is one of the only act of violence throughout the film. Moments like these do serve their purposes and bring to light questions and themes that have you thinking about them for hours after viewing. It must be said though that, if like me you know people who suffered from such experiences, or maybe even if not, you may find these moments to be very upsetting.
What makes this film better than its shocks and morals though is how maturely it is all handled. There is no music unless it is within the scene – such as the music from a bar or the radio in a car. This grounds the film more than if there had been a score. The writing is so natural and well delivered that it wouldn’t surprise me if it had all been improvised. The acting is superb from all points – apart from one of the boyfriends, Ziad, who was very stilted at times. The film would have fallen apart from minute one had it not been for the performances of our three leads. But most of all it’s the film’s passion. This was clearly a story that Hamoud wanted to tell and had a clear vision for how to tell it.
In Between is a raw and very real story with a lot of heart beneath its surface. It works well as a feel-bad picture with ambiguity in the right moments to make it powerful at times. Hard to watch scenes and the heavy atmosphere in general will stop me from watching it again, but I don’t feel like I need to. In Between will stay for a good while. If you feel like you can take the shocking moments and the depressing feel, then you will find yourself watching a fascinating film. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.
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