Empowered Muslim lawyer Leila (Mouna Hawa) and lesbian Christian DJ Salma (Sana Jammelieh) share a flat and a party-girl lifestyle, rejecting the patriarchal strictures of their respective traditions in favour of embracing the Palestinian underground club culture of the bustling Israeli capital, Tel Aviv.

In contrast, their new roommate Nour (Shaden Kanboura), a student from a small Arab town and a traditional, hijab-wearing Muslim, is both horrified and fascinated by the freedom and independence of the lives the women lead, by their refusal to compromise. Increasingly drawn to her two roommates, the three become grudging friends.

Despite the relative freedom the three women enjoy however, each has their own romantic troubles. Chic and sexually liberated, Leila’s drug-fuelled partying meets with the disapproval of her initially supportive but non-committal boyfriend Ziad (Mahmoud Shalaby), Salma is forced to hide her sexuality, and her doctor girlfriend Dunya (Ahlam Canaan), from her conservative Christian family who continue to set her up with potential male suitors while Nour’s seemingly pious fiancé Wassim (Henry Andrawes) is a domineering control freak, intent on subjugating her, bending her to his will.

But as Leila takes a stand in her relationship with Ziad and Salma makes the risky decision to take Dunya home to meet the parents, Nour’s widening horizons and self-assurance enrage the hypocritical Wassim, his violent actions forcing the three women closer together than ever before.

A complex, nuanced glimpse of the everyday trials faced by emancipated Palestinian women in the face of patriarchal society, In Between explores the shifting landscape of Arab-Israeli attitudes and prejudices in relation to culture, tradition, sexuality and identity through the disparate lives of it’s three very different protagonists, exposing the casual bigotry and racism directed at them by Tel Aviv’s dominant Jewish community, the misogyny they experience from their own communities.

The cast have an easy chemistry, their performances natural and refreshing, writer/director Hamoud’s spiky script neatly skewering both the patriarchal Palestinian tradition and the arrogant Israeli urban culture paying lip service to secularism that the women find themselves caught, quite literally, in between, her film vibrant, simmering with an undercurrent of fury, busting taboos and preconceptions, but still remaining, at it’s core, a bittersweet, sensitively crafted portrait of female friendship, the problems it’s heroines face universal, despite their lives rarely being depicted onscreen.

Funny, fresh and touching, In Between is a rousing portrait of female solidarity.

Movie Review: In Between
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