If you’re going to make a film about the legacy of British colonialism, Zionism, and the concept of the two state solution between Israel and Palestine then you need to be bold. The issue with Shoshana is that it tries to be fair and extremely careful in presenting historical facts accurately. Whilst that is to be commended, the issue with Michael Winterbottom’s film is it feels less like a film and more like a scripted documentary.
Shoshana is set near the end of the interwar period, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, and tells of the love story between a young Jewish female reporter and her relationship with a British intelligence officer. Interwoven in all of this is the rise of Zionism and the murder of its leader Avraham Stern.
Michael Booth and Irina Starshenbaum do what they can with the script they are given. We get a sense of why the British colonial rule is hated. Yet, outside of the two central characters, everyone else feels like a cliche and underdeveloped. There was little to thrill, and all the major dramatic events were predictable.
Soshana is well made but it’s not bold. It is all very even handed so as not to risk offending and that’s the problem. Films need drama and in order to do that it must be bold. It’s curious given Michael Winterbottom’s filmography and some of the extreme films he has made. This felt muted and lacked passion – the words were all there but it lacked feeling.
Shoshana will be shown at the London Film Festival 20203 on the following dates: 7, 10, and 11 October.