Michael Winterbottom Alissa Simon Britain Russia Palestine city Tel Aviv film country Love Citi Extreme Citizens Enterprise Michael Winterbottom Alissa Simon Britain Russia Palestine city Tel Aviv

‘Shoshana’ Review: A Troubled Love Story Set Against the British Mandate in Palestine

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Alissa Simon Film Critic Britain’s official post-WWI administration of Palestine lasted from 1920-48 and is probably the UK colonial enterprise least addressed by its fiction filmmakers.

But now prolific writer-director Michael Winterbottom (“The Trip,” “A Mighty Heart”) uses that complicated era as a backdrop to the compelling historical romance “Shoshana.” A passion project 15 years in the making and based on real people and events, the film employs the ill-fated, cross-cultural relationship between a ranking member of the British Palestine Police Force and a young Jewish woman to explore the way extremism and violence push people apart, forcing them to choose sides.

It’s worth noting upfront that while the British rulers had to deal with both Palestine’s Arab and Jewish citizens, each of whom want an independent country, the narrative here hews firmly to a British and Jewish p.o.v., with Arabs barely characterized except as victims and troublemakers.

By the 1930s, Palestine is a cauldron of unrest with the Arab and Jewish populations at each other’s throats. In response, the British increase their police presence in the country, with new officer Geoffrey Morton (Harry Melling) assigned to the Arab villages around Jenin, and fellow recruit Tom Wilkin (Douglas Booth) allocated undercover anti-terrorist work in the growing, modern Jewish city of Tel Aviv.

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