French director Lorraine Levy has created a nightmarish scenario that evolves into a unique and quite beautiful movie.
Imagine living harmoniously for eighteen years, cradled in a niche of comfort, love, security; your solitary concern is how to fill the hours before entering military service or medical school when the apocalypse strikes and reveals that you were switched at birth; your world is bifurcated, and in a nanosecond you are what you have always despised, feared. Such is the tale of “Joseph”, the musical son of Jewish parents, living in Tel Aviv and “Yacine”, yearning to be a doctor, living with his Muslim family in a Palestinian village.
What ensues is a compelling and momentous story of courage and fortitude in the face of devastating circumstances; your beloved child is not of your blood; but the blood of your perpetual enemy. Joseph, a devout Jewish boy, must recognize that he will have to convert to be considered a Jew; Yacine, is now a member of the tribe that he believes has kept his family in captivity for generations.
Exceptional performances, primarily by the mothers, slowly erode entrenched prejudices, unearthing similarities; both boys have been cherished, encouraged, loved unconditionally. Could this love cease? No, in a woman’s heart there is always room for “the other son”.
“The Other Son” is refreshing in its realism. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is viewed from the perspective of decent, well-intentioned individuals; the viewer is not bludgeoned with propaganda from either side, yet capable of empathizing with both.
At the core of this wonderful tale is the remarkable resiliency of youth, the aptitude of accepting the immutable; grappling with the inconceivable, but not allowing it to alter one’s integrity. Two boys born on the same day in January, 1991, raised by the “other” family, destined to pave the way to a less acrimonious, peaceful, better place.