Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud chose a suitable title for her film In Between. And that’s because her characters do find themselves connected to multiple identities and life stages. Their ages and relationships govern who they are. The latter is highly important because of the traditional forces in their lives. Tradition even rears its ugly head in a sitcom-like set up in a film that escalates into a good drama.
Nour (Shaden Kanboura) is a student who finds herself living in Tel Aviv with Salma (Sana Jammelieh) and Laila (Mouna Hawa). She and her roommates get in each other’s hair but they have more pressing concerns. Despite being the strict one, the film hints that Nour would have chosen women like them to live with. She’s using them and other complications to distance herself from her fiancee Wissam (Henry Andrawes).
Despite introducing Noor’s roommate first, the film gives them slightly lighter stakes, plot wise. Salma is a DJ who humours her Christian parents. They introduce her to men even if she prefers female partners. Laila the cynical one, is a lawyer who uses illegal drugs. Coming to the mix is a well-traveled love interest, Ziad (Mahmud Shalaby), who shares her liberal views.
In Between is good at showing the universality of these women’s struggles. Nour has to make sacrifices to get an education. She also has to deal with Wissam who prefers her to be just a wife. Salma, like every millennial, needs restaurant work to pursue what she wants in her career and her love life. Laila is like many lawyers who fights for her clients as strongly as she does her roommates.
The performances are marvelous, specifically Kanboura who has Sand Storm as part of her credits. Here, she has more to do with Nour, a complex character who has one new life experience after another. Kanboura also seems to hint at Nour’s future. Nour would make a good mother but she understandably wants for that to happen in her own time. She cares for Salma and Laila like they do her.
The film also shows its version of the cultural psychology within Palestinian youth. Hamoun also shows a specific gender dynamic to this psychology. Male characters like Wissam are ready to condemn women like Nour as guilty of being impure. She’s guilty just by association. But thankfully, this is a film about women fighting back against Wissam and other terrible men. And they do just that.
- Release Date: 2/16/2018