Movie Review - In Between (2018)

This film was nominated for 12 Ophirs. An Ophir Award is Israel's version of the Oscars. It's a pretty impressive debut for writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud, a female Palestinian filmmaker. What she crafts is a powerful statement about the lives of various Palestinian women in Tel Aviv with two of the three actresses playing the women here being rewarded with Ophirs.

Shaden Kanboura won the 2017 Ophir for Best Actress. She co-starred the year before in Sand Storm, the movie that won Best Film at the 2016 Ophirs. Here, Kanboura plays Nour, a very conservative woman but who is in university studying computer science. The nuance of her character and her juxtaposition with the others are probably the greatest parts of this whole piece.

Nour's dormitory is being renovated, so she needs a new place to stay. A friend recommends she lives temporarily with two women. The two women though aren't conservative. They're very much the opposite. For example, Nour wears a hijab when in mixed company, if not most of the time. The other two women never wear hijabs. Nour says she's from Umm al-Fahm, a predominantly Arab city in Israel, known for fundamental Islam. She does her daily prayers as a faithful Muslim. The other two women never pray. Nour believes in marriage and is engaged to a man to whom she believes she has to serve and obey strictly. The other two women don't believe in that. In particular, one of the other two women is a lesbian.

Mouna Hawa won the 2017 Ophir for Best Supporting Actress. Her only other major credit is a brief role on Netflix's Fauda. Here, Hawa plays Laila Sakher from Nazareth. She has big and long, curly hair and has no problem showing it. She also has no problem smoking marijuana or doing other drugs. She can dance all night at a club, but she also gets up and goes to court where she works as a lawyer who fiercely advocates or negotiates with men. She's a very modern woman, even coming from Muslim culture.

She's also very particular about which men she involves herself. She does become smitten with one man. His name is Ziad Hamdi, played by Mahmud Shalaby (Free Men and Jaffa). He's tall, dark and handsome, as well as seemingly sensitive because he says he lived in New York City and worked as a filmmaker. Yet, he's revealed to be another example of the controlling men whom women in this culture have to avoid or circumnavigate.

Sana Jammelieh plays Salma Zoatary from Tarshiha, another Arab city in northern Israel. She bounces from various jobs but stays mainly in the restaurant business, working in kitchens and bars. She's also prepping to be a DJ for some rave. She meets a lesbian doctor named Dunia who is a doctor and Salma falls for Dunia. Unfortunately, the controlling man she has to circumnavigate is her father who is a supreme homophobe.

Henry Andrawes (Fauda) plays Wissam, the fiancé of Nour. He becomes the controlling man who takes a good chunk of the focus of the narrative. His behavior echoes the sentiment that we hear spoken at the beginning. The sentiment seeks to see Palestinian women as objects at the whim of men. The film doesn't paint all men as bad. There are a couple of male friends who are good. One of whom is gay, but the focus here is on the women.

Not Rated but contains language and sexuality.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 43 mins.

Available on DVD/VOD.


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