Montana Film Review: “In Between”
By Nick Rudow, KBGA DJ
Movies are often passive experiences, in which we simply sit in the dark and let the film’s story play out in front of us. But sometimes a great film takes you into the world of its characters in such an intimate way, you feel like you’re there with them, like you’ve gotten to know the characters personally. This is the case with writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature, a deeply moving and quietly powerful film about three Palestinian women, Layla, Salma and Nour, who share an apartment together in Tel Aviv.
As an Arab-Israeli woman, Hamoud depicts the trials and tribulations that women face in Israel on a daily basis, all with sensitivity and authenticity. Layla’s (Mouna Hawa) party lifestyle causes her conservative boyfriend Ziad (Mahmoud Shalaby) to feel reluctant in introducing her to his family. Salma (Sana Jammeliah) keeps her sexuality a secret from her family and falls in love with a doctor named Dunya (Ahlam Canaan) while her parents are trying to find her a potential husband.
It’s rare to find stories, let alone made in Israel, that portray queer women in such honest and authentic ways so it’s great to see this film shine a light on that issue. Nour’s (Shaden Kanboura) fiancé Wissam (Henry Andrawes) believes that she should stay at home and do housework instead of continuing her education. In a male-dominated world, these women are strong and inspiring, facing every challenge in their life with determination and perseverance that’s heartening to see in such dire political times for women.
These women stand up against the oppressive men in their life and never back down from what they believe is right. Hamoud infuses her story with such humanity and truth, that you feel for the characters in ways most movies can’t accomplish. The cast is uniformly wonderful, inhabiting their characters in such a believable way. Hollywood should take note of Hamoud, who’s written female characters better than anyone else this year.
The film ends on a beautiful, wordless scene as we realize that even though their life may be tough, these women have each other and will always be there for one another. Films about female friendship have been made time and time again but never with this much honesty and truth. Hamoud isn’t afraid to show the harsh realities that these women face and how that affects their lives. I applaud the Montana Film Festival for showing a film that represents LGBT people and women so strongly. Hamoud has made an extraordinary film about being yourself, no matter what people think and that’s a message the world needs right now.
Playing on Saturday, October 7, at 3:00 PM and Sunday, October 8, at 8:15 PM.