‘The Other Son’ Movie Review
The idea of two children being switched a birth is not a new one, but it’s a story that always generates interest, mostly because of the level of emotions involved when the switch is discovered. Lorraine Levvy’s new movie, The Other Son, tells this story with a modern twist that tuns up the dial on the emotional upheaval.
When Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk) has a medical exam before joining the Israeli army, he finds out that his blood type is not compatible with his parents, Orith and Alon (Emmanuelle Devos and Pascal Elbe) and he cannot be their biological son. The truth emerges quickly. Orith gave birth to her son the height of fighting during the Gulf War and on that same day, a Palestinian woman, Leila Al Bezaaz (Areen Omari) gave birth to a son, too. A son that, during the chaos of bombs and panic, was accidentally switched with Orith’s.
Eighteen years after the switch, the two mothers meet for the first time. Separated by class and religion and political turmoil, they have to find common ground quickly for the sake of their sons. Joseph realizes that in the eyes of his faith, he’s no longer even considered Jewish. And Yacine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi Dehbi) comes back from studying in Paris to find out that his brother now thinks of him as the enemy.
The movie poses some interesting questions about nature versus nurture. Yacine, the biological son of the upper class doctor and soldier, is far more driven and dedicated to his education, even though he grew up behind barbed wire. Joseph, who grew up free and easy on the beaches of Tel Aviv, wants to be a musician, something he finds he has in common with his Palestinian father. Would they have taken the same paths, though, if they hadn’t been switched?
What I really enjoyed about the film was the way the boys bonded. The cliche would have been to have them clash, but instead Joseph and Yacine become friends. Joseph, more than Yacine, is drawn to the world in which he should have grown up, which is another interesting twist. One would think that Yacine (who arguably got the raw end of the deal) would be the one reaching out to his Jewish family. Another interesting note…the only language the two families have in common is English. The Al Bezaaz’s can speak Hebrew, but the Silbergs don’t know Arabic.
In the end, the movie raises a lot more questions than it attempts to answer, and there is very little indication given of exactly how these two families, whose lives will be entwined forever, will proceed into the future. I found that somewhat frustrating which I suppose is a testament to how much I grew to care about the boys. I would recommend this film, but I warn you not to get too attached if you like resolution.
The Other Son opens in limited release on Friday, October 26th.