The Other Son

“Making a feel-good movie about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be a recipe for disaster, but French writer-director Lorraine Levy manages to avoid many, if not all, of the pitfalls in her touching family drama, The Other Son (Les Fils de l’autre). A high-concept tale of two young men – one Israeli, the other Palestinian – accidentally switched at birth and raised on the wrong side of the struggle, the film features terrific performances from its multinational cast and an overtly positive message that never quite succumbs to pure sentimentalism. Art house audiences will easily adopt this certifiable crowd-pleaser.” []

The Other Son, is a French film by Lorraine Lévy. It is about an Israeli and Palestinian infants switched at birth, each growing up as somebody else. They grow up on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. The Palestinian child, Joseph, grows up as an Israeli. The Israeli child, Yacine,  grows up as a Palestinian.

The families become aware of the switch 18 years later when a pre-enlisting test for his compulsory service in the Israeli army reveals that Joseph is not the biological son of his Israeli parents. This revelation turns the lives of these two families upside-down, forcing them to reassess their respective identities, their values and their beliefs. Silence is the best they can manage.

The two fathers and the Palestinian’s brother are primarily concerned that their birth son has been raised by the “other side.” The mothers are more concerned about the return of the son they gave birth to, yearning for the sons they never got to raise. Yacine’s older brother Bilal shifts from loving his brother to hating him for his Jewish blood.

Joseph and Yacine internalize the bad news with more maturity and understanding than everyone else. Joseph dream is to become a singer-songwriter. Yacine sees his plans for the future in Europe. Neither boy is obsessed by his racial and religious identity. Joseph, a musician, finds his musical roots with his blood relatives on the West Bank, and discovers that the brother who looked exactly like him was killed in the region’s ongoing fighting. Yacine now understands where his gift for medicine came from.

The movie was filmed in Israel and shifting through four languages, French, Hebrew, English, and Arabic, with English subtitles.
“Lévy and her co-writer, Nathalie Saugeon, are less interested in harping on Middle Eastern politics than in examining how the boys and their families sort out the news. Awkward visits are paid across the border, while each family works internally to make sense of the news that they have been harboring a traditional ‘enemy.’” []

The movie trailer

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