Watched: 2 February

I really enjoyed this drama by Maysaloun Hamoud about three different women in Tel Aviv, who are each grappling with problems that relate in different ways to struggles for independence, equality and tolerance within a patriarchal, conservative society, though the city does appear to be a more progressive place than the outlying smaller communities that are briefly depicted here. The main characters – two old friends and their new flatmate – are all very well drawn and well acted by Mouna Howa (playing Layla, a lawyer who will not compromise her personality or independence when she enters a new relationship), Shaden Kanboura (Nour, a student whose husband-to-be exerts control over her life) and Sana Jammelieh (Salma, a DJ and a lesbian). The story examines the hedonistic, modern lifestyles that Layla and Salma enjoy and contrasts this with the more conservative corners of Israeli society, from which Nour emerges. It’s hard hitting at times, and it’s pretty damning of the country’s menfolk, with just one male character depicted in a wholly positive light (a gay friend of the women). Good direction and a strong screenplay. (****)