Bar Bahar [In Between] (2016)

Bar Bahar
Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Writer: Maysaloun Hamoud
Cast: Mouna HawaSana JammeliehShaden KanbouraMahmud ShalabyHenry Andrawes
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 8.6.2017

Leila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) share an apartment in Tel Aviv. Their third flatmate, another young, Palestinian woman, just moved out and gave her room to her cousin, Noor (Shaden Kanboura). Leila and Salma, who think of themselves as progressive, are taken aback when shy, quiet Noor shows up, wearing a hijab. Leila, a brash defense lawyer, and Salma, a lesbian DJ, don’t really know how to deal with Noor, who studies computer science and spends most of her spare time with her strictly religious fiancé Wissam (Henry Andrawes). But in time, the three women grow closer.

Bar Bahar is a beautiful, touching film with great characters that gives us a rare complex and diverse portrayal of Middle Eastern women. I really have no complaints about it.

It’s really amazing that this is Hamoud’s first feature film. It’s such a mature film, and it’s so clever in the way it is set up, managing to string together three very different ways of living that all come with their different challenges and that all have to navigate patriarchal structures in very different ways.

And I simply loved the conclusion the film seems to draw: to really successfully navigate them, women have to stick together. It doesn’t matter how different we all are, we need those friendships to keep us afloat. Since I, personally, rely very much on the women in my life and since that is an experience rarely depicted on screen in a way that makes sense to me, it was doubly satisfying to get this here.

Hawa, Jammelieh and Kanboura were great in their respective roles and with their well-rounded characters, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite here. Fortunately I don’t have to. But I will say that my favorite thing about it is the way they work as a group of friends. Their chemistry, the way they deal with each other – it’s simply wonderful.

The icing on the cake is the absolutely awesome soundtrack, keeping the tempo of the film up, but also emphasizing the emotional moments. I can only gush about this film.

Summarizing: Became an immediate favorite. Watch it.

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