بر بحر‎ Bar Bahar (In Between, 2016)

A story of three Arab-Israeli women who live together in Tel Aviv, this at its best feels effortless and modern. The linchpin is Leila (Mouna Hawa), a lawyer and party animal who has a blithe abandon to living her life which is delightful to watch. Salma (Sana Jammelieh) is her lesbian housemate, an aspiring DJ who takes work in a bar and hides her sexuality from her traditional (Christian) parents. They take in Nour (Shaden Kanboura) as a houseguest, a cousin’s friend who wears a headscarf and has a more traditional Muslim family. Thus is the set-up for the rest of the film, and it’s a venerable one at that, mined for plenty of films and especially television sitcoms. I really wanted it to be more upbeat, but plenty of stuff happens to the three that’s not exactly cheerful (thanks, traditional religious cultures and the patriarchy), and it moves towards a very much downbeat denouement, as the three regroup — not without hope, but at least a little knocked back. Still, picking up on one of the most commonly cited comparisons (Girls), I’d happily watch an entire TV series about these women because their lives seem set to continue apace.

In Between film posterCREDITS
Director/Writer Maysaloun Hamoud ميسلون حمود; Cinematographer Itay Gross איתי גרוס; Starring Mouna Hawa منى حوا, Shaden Kanboura شادن قنبورة, Sana Jammelieh سناء جمالية; Length 96 minutes.
Seen at BFI Southbank (NFT1), London, Wednesday 8 March 2017.

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