Tel Aviv’s Broad City

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

IN BE­TWEEN Di­rected by Maysa­loun Hamoud. Star­ring Mouna Hawa, Shaden Kan­boura, Sana Jam­melieh. Club, QFT Belfast, 96mins Pales­tinian direc­tor Maysa­loun Hamoud, has said she wants to “stir things up” with her movies. This is no idle rhetoric: her won­der­ful, spiky de­but fea­ture has re­sulted in her be­ing is­sued with a fatwa and sev­eral death threats. The film, which con­cerns three young Arab women shar­ing an apart­ment in Tel Aviv, opens with a stern lec­ture and a sugar wax that’s so vig­or­ous you fear it will end with cor­rec­tive skin graft­ing: “Don’t raise your voice; men don’t like women with raised voices; re­mem­ber to al­ways say a kind word and cook him good food; don’t let on that you know what you are do­ing.”

Such ad­vice is never go­ing to sit well with Layla (Mouna Hawa), a fash­ion­able, de­fi­antly curly haired li­on­ess-lawyer who en­joys smok­ing, drink­ing, snort­ing and teas­ing: “Let’s keep our flir­ta­tion fun,” she warns her Jewish col­league. She hopes to find a man who is as lib­er­ated as she is: might Ziad (Mah­moud Sha­lab), a film-maker who has lived abroad and who shares her pen­chant for par­ty­ing, be the one?

Laila lives and boozes with Salma (Sana Jam­malieh), an as­pir­ing DJ who adds to the film’s killer un­der­ground sound­track and whose strict Chris­tian par­ents don’t know she’s gay. Re­turn­ing to her ru­ral home, she is in­vari­ably met with po­ten­tial matches, such as the “catch” who refers to him­self in the third per­son and boasts that he sells 1,000 chick­ens a day in his su­per­mar­kets. Will Salma be able to tell her in­creas­ingly fran­tic mother about Dou­nia (Ah­lam Canaan), the trainee doc­tor she has fallen for?

When con­ser­va­tive hi­jab­wear­ing grad­u­ate student Nour (Shaden Kan­boura) ar­rives in the shared apart­ment, the stage looks set for a cul­ture clash. In­stead, the hypocrisies or Nour’s dour fiance (Henry An­drawes), in­spire bond­ing and a cun­ning plan hatched be­tween the three women.

Pic­ture an in­verted Gentle­men Pre­fer Blon­des in the White City. For all the ke­tamine and bang­ing tunes, the cen­tral tri­umvi­rate are fight­ing for their small free­doms. Itay Gross’s cam­era both ca­reers along the streets and boxes them into small in­door spa­ces. The ten­sion be­tween in­di­vid­u­al­ity and tra­di­tion in Tel Aviv piques with their fe­male ex­pe­ri­ence. The men they hang out with, we learn, are apt to ask a woman to quit smok­ing, while light­ing up.

Who needs Sex & the City 3? A brave film be­fit­ting its brave de­pic­tion of women.

Mouna Hawa, Sana Jam­malieh and Shaden Kan­boura

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