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In Between review: Striking out for independence

 

By Damon Smith

The debut feature of writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud captures day-to-day life for three Arab women determined to assert their independence in modern Tel Aviv.

Fiercely intelligent attorney Laila (Mouna Hawa) knows how to play the system and she navigates professional circles with elan. By night, she parties to excess and returns home to the apartment she shares with tattooed gay friend Salma (Sana Jammelieh).

Salma's conservative Christian family expect her to settle down with a dull husband, but she is determined to embrace life on her own terms including potential romance with the beautiful Dr Dunya (Ahlam Canaan). Meanwhile, Laila is smitten by a hunky filmmaker called Ziad (Mahmoud Shalaby) but she soon learns that he doesn't share her forward-thinking attitudes.

While Laila and Salma deliberate these burgeoning romances, they welcome a new lodger, IT student Nour (Shaden Kanboura), who has yet to liberate herself from tradition and the controlling hand of her bullish fiance (Henry Andrawes).

He expects Nour to play the role of the dutiful homemaker, while he goes out to work. Laila and Salma are determined to help Nour chart a different path.

Four stars

On Body and Soul: Strange affair in an abattoir

After a prolonged hiatus from the big screen, award-winning Hungarian writer-director Ildiko Enyedi returns with a drama that unfolds partly in the subconscious of the lead characters.

Endre (Geza Morcsanyi) is the financial director of an abattoir, who is immediately attracted to the facility's new quality inspector, Maria (Alexandra Borbely).

But his clumsy attempts at romantic overtures are rebuffed by Maria, who is painfully shy.

Each night, the two co-workers return home on their own and, unknowingly, experience the same dream about two deer huddling together in a snow-laden landscape

Back at the abattoir, Endre and Maria take part in staff assessments run by the company's psychiatrist, Klara (Reka Tenki). She is intrigued to discover that two members of her hard-working staff are experiencing exactly the same vision.

This revelation sows seeds of curiosity for Endre and Maria and they begin to wonder if there is some unspoken connection between them that should be explored.

Three stars

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