Cathy Nugent reviews “In Between”
Maysaloun Hamoud’s film portrayal of three Palestinian women who share a flat in Tel Aviv shows the difficulties of finding personal freedom and breaking from a patriarchal background.
Hamoud does not foreground Israeli society yet it is always present. While the modernity of Tel Aviv nurtures the women and helps them find their way, the anti-Arab racism of the wider society impinges on the choices they can ultimately make.
Laila is a lawyer and a bold and confident character who is determined (at all costs) to break free of conventions. Salma is part-time DJ, who is dodging the match-making of her Christian parents and cannot ever tell them why. She is a lesbian.
After Nour moves in with Laila and Salma there are comic and tender encounters between this strict Muslim student and the other women.
None of the men in this film come off well, apart from Nour’s father whose love for his daughter trumps any male pride or religious teaching.
Hamoud has faced criticism for taking Israeli money to make the film. To which her reasonable answer is, “...that money is ours, we should take more. We don’t take what we deserve.” As a resident of Jaffa she can hardly boycott her own society!
In the Arab town of Umm-al-Fahm in northern Israel, where the character of Nour, comes from, the local Mayor declared the film “haram” (forbidden). It was deemed to be disparaging of Muslim women. Not so.
This is a beautiful film, a slice of life which shows the complexities of Palestinian society. Indeed shows a part of society that is rarely seen.