In Between

In Between

Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Running Time: 103 minutes

Three Palestinian women living in an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture in this timely new drama.

Watching In Between about a trio of young Palestinian women in Tel Aviv trying to shape their own destinies despite being part of a conservative society entrenched in patriarchy, I realized the sisterhood created by Arab-Israeli filmmaker Maysaloun Hamoud, making her feature debut, was partly indebted to Hollywood’s gaggle-of-girls genre. Think Three Coins in the Fountain, Where the Boys Are, Sex and the City and even hints of 9 to 5 and Thelma and Louise.

Yes, there are English subtitles onscreen, but the actions of these roommates easily translate into a familiar pattern, one that I have always found to be irresistible: Three or four single women with distinctive personalities: an extrovert, a goody-goody, an arty type, etc. share their intertwined lives. Usually, one suffers a tragic incident of sorts that causes their bond to grow stronger.

What elevates Hamoud’s screenplay beyond typical Tinseltown fare, however, is what is at stake by rebelling against cultural norms and choosing a liberal lifestyle, namely, bringing shame to your loved ones and being ostracized by your community. Then there are three vibrant lead actresses, who are beautiful without any Max Factor-like artifice to soften their natural edges. They feel as if they are at one with their apartment-sharing characters, ladies who could actually exist on this planet instead of only in the glossy pages of fashion magazines.

On a side note, which might particularly tickle and impress fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm, an actual fatwa was issued against Hamoud, the first against a Palestinian in 70 years for her depictions of homosexuality, intoxication and drug use. That, combined with no less than Isabelle Huppert declaring the women featured in In Between as “heroines of our time” while presenting an award at Cannes last year is as good a recommendation you can get.

Spoken language in this film is Hebrew and Arabic presented with English Subtitles

~~ Susan Wloszczyna,