Three female flatmates in Tel Aviv fight the constraints of their Muslim faith and families in an inspiring directorial debut
This bittersweet debut feature from Maysaloun Hamoud is a spiky treat, an empowering tale of three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv, each fighting their own battles for independence and fulfilment. Balancing tragicomic relationship blues with sharp sociopolitical observation, Hamoud’s slyly subversive drama draws us deep into an often hidden world. As the title suggests, these women occupy a liminal space, caught between freedom and repression, religion and secularism, the past and the future. Theirs is a world in flux, in which the drugs and partying of the underground scene stand in stark contrast to the strict hypocrisies that dominate the cultural landscape. As one of them tells her devout father: “Some people live in palaces, but God knows what their life is like inside…”
Laila (Mouna Hawa) is a force of nature, a chain-smoking, leather-jacketed lawyer who can drink and snort the boys under the table and takes pride in overturning the conventions of her profession and her gender. She lives with Salma (Sana Jammalieh), an aspiring DJ who works long hours in kitchens and bars and whose strict Christian parents don’t know she’s gay. When strait-laced and studious Nour (Shaden Kanboura) arrives from Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, the ultra-conservative Muslim lifestyle she leads is out of step with that of her new flatmates. No wonder Nour’s sanctimonious fiance, Wissam (Henry Andrawes), worries about their influence, eager to bring the marriage forward and remove his bride from such corrupting company.