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    "The situation is      
getting out of hand” 

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Added 23rd February 2024
Review by: Jane Alexandra Foster


Released in 2024


Set in the 1930s in Tel Aviv, a brand new European, Jewish city being built on the shores of the Mediterranean. Thomas Wilkin (Douglas Booth) is in love with the city and with Shoshana Borochov (Irina Starshenbaum). Through their relationship the film explores the way extremism and violence pushes people apart, forcing people to choose one side or the other.

Wilkin works with Geoffrey Morton (Harry Melling) in the anti terrorist squad of the British Palestine Police force, chasing the charismatic poet and underground leader Avraham Stern (Aury Alby). Stern believes Israel can only be built through violence. His two main targets are Wilkin and Morton. Shoshana, like most of Tel Aviv, is modern, progressive and feminist. She hates the politics of Stern and his followers. But as the violence builds everyone is forced to choose which side they will fight on.

Starting in the 1930’s ‘Shoshana’ looks at the increasing rift between the Arab and Jewish peoples living in what was British Palestine. Our story opens with Shoshana, a lovely young Russian Jewish woman, who’s also very spirited, working for the, Hagganah, an organisation  working with the British for peace in Palestine.  Her lover, a British Policeman, is played wonderfully by Douglas Booth, but as their love story unfolds, tensions and frictions rise. What seems a match of soul mates descends into hurt and divided loyalties, set against the mounting attacks and violence in Tel Aviv. Both are uncomfortable with how their respective superiors behave, and background issues are playing out, and love nearly does triumph. However, as the atrocities mount, the pair are irrevocably pulled apart and drowned as national affairs take centre stage. 

Beautifully researched, ‘Shoshana’ is a history lesson for all of us who don’t know the historical beginnings and issues of what we are now witnessing, as the current war erupts again in this region. There is an uncomfortable comparison here, that with equal cultural and religious passion on both sides, their seems no way out, no resolution in sight. So it seems for our lovers too; brutal lessons are delivered, and yet with equal passion on both sides, the lessons are not learnt. One side must erupt, one side must sacrifice, and then it switches, and repeats until destruction seems inevitable. 

Masterfully directed by Michael Winterbottom, ‘Shoshana’ observes, and lays out in bold, clear terms the conflicts which engulf the lovers and their country, until the national events take centre stage. For this complex dramatic layering, Winterbottom is to be applauded.


In all, ‘Shoshana’ is a hard balancing act of politics, violence and love. It is also, perhaps, a brave attempt to look at an emerging feminine energy that tries to mediate in such conflicts, and keeps trying. In this, the casting choice of Russian actress, Irina Starshenbaum, who brings earthy passion and excellent dramatic timing to the role, is inspired.  

Well shot, and paced, Italy stands for Israel, but the back drop works well in all ways. Also, ‘Shoshana’ is one of those films that is well timed by accident. Shot before the recent conflicts erupted, it is a useful guide and history to learning about this conflict laden, complex part of the world.


Highly recommended as a fast-paced thriller and history lesson but also a love story that will appeal to anyone caught in a cross cultural storm, which in the UK today is fairly common.


‘Shoshana’, is well worth a big screen outing for.

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Starring: Douglas Booth, Irina Starshenbaum, Harry Melling

Writers: Laurence Coriat, Paul Viragh, Michael Winterbottom 

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Shoshana, in cinemas from 23rd February 2024

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