THE OTHER SON -The Review
The Palestine/Israel conflict is at the center of the well-meaning but predictable switched-at-birth drama THE OTHER SON, a French-Israeli co-production. At times, it’s a moving and inspirational film but it’s also clumsy and a bit dull. Joseph (Jules Sitruk), is an 18-year-old musician about to join the Israeli army for his mandatory military service. He lives at home in a middle class suburb of Tel Aviv with his parents, French doctor Orith (Emmanuelle Devos) and Israel army commander Alon Silbers (Pascal Elbe). When Joseph gets his blood test for the military service, it’s revealed that these are not his biological parents after all. It turns out that during the Gulf War, Joseph was evacuated from a clinic along with another baby, and the two were given back to the wrong families. Oops! While Palestinian Joseph went to Tel Aviv with the Silbers, their actual Jewish son, Yacine (Medhi Dehbi), was brought to the West Bank by an Arab couple, Said (Khalifa Natour) and Leila (Areen Omari). The revelation turns the lives of the two families upside-down, forcing them to reassess their values and beliefs.
French writer and director Lorraine Levy does what she can with the gimmicky material, wisely focusing on the challenges and the fallout the two young men and their parents face as they try to deal with the situation. Yacine’s angry and militantly anti-Zionist brother Bilal provides what little tension there is in the film. Once all the initial shock of the discovery wears off, the film doesn’t know where to go so it piles on several melodramatic turns that don’t ring true and seem concocted to run out the clock. The acting is solid, especially veteran French actress Emmanuelle Devos and Jules Sitruk as Joseph who’s force to wonder if he’s still Jewish, but the story is tied up too neatly and political arguments seem stale. THE OTHER SON looks great and its heart is in the right place but it can’t overcome its heavy handed dialog and cliched characters.
2 1/2 of 5 Stars
THE OTHER SON opens in St. Louis today at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Theater