TIFF 2016 Review: In Between
Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature In Between (Bar Bahar) features three women, Lalia, Salma, and Nour, sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv and navigating everyday life. Lalia (Mouna Hawa), Salma (Sana Jammelieh), and Nour (Shaden Kanboura) are all quite different in personality but have shared experiences dealing with identity, love, and friendship. Each theme is explored with a subtle grace by first time director Hamoud and it is a marvel how each character is textured and how balanced the storytelling remains throughout.
As the title suggests, the characters are in limbo and try to determine their own identities and find happiness with varying degrees of success. The tensions between modernity and tradition, Arabic and Hebrew, Israeli and Palestinian, and religion and secularism, are all cleverly deployed throughout the film, leaving no character immune to a near-impossible balancing act attempted by so many in this part of the world.
It’s always remarkable when stories and characters from an unfamiliar place exude a real universality. The experiences of these women and their friendship will undoubtedly translate across languages and borders. Those familiar with the cultures, settings, or languages depicted in the film will have an especially moving viewing experience but this film is a must-see for audiences of all kinds.