Every once in a while, a film comes along and blows my mind. This is one of those films. The Other Son addresses stereotyping and prejudice brilliantly by making viewers connect with characters from Israel and Palestine. It delves into the human psyche by challenging thoughts and traditions ingrained by society. With a compelling storyline, stellar acting and powerful cinematography, this film opens ones eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of human relations.
The Other Son
In this powerful, subtitled drama from Cohen Media Group, two young men (Joseph and Yacine) from opposite sides of a bitter social and religious divide discover that they are really not who they were brought up to be. The truth comes to light when Joseph prepares to enter the Israeli army for his national service. Due to a hospital mix-up, not only is he not the true son of the parents who raised him, but his birth parents are Palestinian.
As the lives of the two families intersect and intertwine, everyone is forced to reconsider who they are and what they believe about themselves, their political beliefs and their religious foundations. Writer-director Lorraine Lévy and co-writer Nathalie Saugeon focus on how the young men and their families deal with the situation.
The Pros and Cons of The Other Son as a Family Film
The story is engaging, and the characters are relatable. I don’t think there is a single poor actor in the film. Both boys come from caring families, which is very nice to see. Relationships are challenged as everyone comes to terms with the reality of the baby mix-up. The actors respond naturally to the situations they are thrown into. Although as viewers we might not agree with the responses, looking at it all objectively, the emotions are raw and real. Every single character shows personal and interpersonal growth throughout the film, and that’s really tough to do.
The camerawork makes an impact by not making an obvious impact. Bombed-out buildings, walls separating people and guards at the borders are depicted in the background of the story, yet not highlighted for shock value. The camera angles are interesting, showing artistically appealing views as well as candid closeups. These closeups capture conflicting emotions in an actor’s eye, helping the viewer relate to the actors even more. Music and sound in the background reflects different cultures and styles.
It’s not all ideal. Along with the good there is a bit of not-so-good. As a parent, I wasn’t thrilled with some of the swearing, which somehow seems more obvious when you are reading the dialogue in subtitles. I also didn’t appreciate the smoking in the film (especially the sharing of a joint). Still, these are points that lead to family discussion before and after the film, and the positives of the story certainly overpower the negatives.
I would consider this a must-see for families with teenage children. It teaches valuable lessons by making the viewer think, and it doesn’t preach. Another benefit of this film is that it’s great for intergenerational watching. Even my 79-year-old mother-in-law was blown away by the powerful message and story in this film we were sent for review.
My hat is off to actors Emmanuelle Devos (Coco Before Chanel, Wild Grass), Pascal Elbé (London Mon Amour, Cherry on the Cake), Khalifa Natour (The Band’s Visit) and Areen Omari(Laila’s Birthday), Jules Sitruk, (Nos résistances) and Mehdi Dehbi (the upcoming Mary, Queen of Scots) for realistic character portrayals in The Other Son.