In Between (Bar Bahar) (Mardi Gras Film Festival)
Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…captured with a fundamental vibrancy, aided by an eclectic soundtrack…
In this sparky, captivating slice-of-life dramedy from Hungarian-born Arab-Israeli filmmaker Maysaloun Hamoud, we follow a group of three Palestinian-Israeli women living in the centre of modern day Tel Aviv. They kick against the drag of religious and cultural expectations from their respective familial backgrounds and struggle to maintain control over their own destinies.
Layla (Mouna Hawa) is a lawyer who chain-smokes her way through her busy days, her gay flat-mate Salma (Sana Jammelieh) DJs frequently at venues around the city and tends bar to subsidise it. Both women party regularly with a close-knit group of Palestinian friends.
Salma’s visits to her oblivious conservative Christian family inevitably result in awkward and unintended ‘drop-in’ visits from prospective husbands and Layla’s boyfriend reveals his embarrassment at introducing her to his own conservative family because Layla smokes heavily and dresses ‘sexily’.
So, while these women have forged their own path in life, the patriarchal traditions of their cultural roots slowly seep into the modern, independent existences that they’ve carved out for themselves.
When wide-eyed Muslim girl, Nour (Shaden Kanboura) arrives from her small rural village with a suitcase in hand, to occupy the third room in the flat, it seems to prefigure a combative triangle forming. However, Nour’s impending arranged marriage to an abusive fiancé soon gives rise to a close friendship forming between the three, as each woman informs aspects of the other’s life.
In Between’s spotlighting of such a little-seen aspect of Palestinian life and culture through such a universally relatable prism, is precisely what cinema is best at. It’s captured with a fundamental vibrancy, aided by an eclectic soundtrack that vacillates between moody instrumental solos, dub beats and electronica and most significantly, with its uniformly strong lead performances, which make for captivating viewing and signal Maysaloun Hamoud as a filmmaker to watch.