The Other Son is a quite thought-provoking French movie. The movie takes place in Israel and details the emotional fall-out when two families discover that their sons were switched at birth. The hook? One family is Palestinian, the other Jewish. The film isn’t as dark as it could be, though it obviously addresses the issues of prejudice and hatred, but in the end, it comes down to a more hopeful stance. The film is buoyed by a genuinely brilliant cast. Emmanuelle Devos and Areen Omari are particularly phenomenal as the two mothers and Jules Sitruk is particularly effective as the Jewish boy discovering that he’s really a Palestinian. His questions aren’t just of culture or race, but of faith. He’s probably the best performance in the film. The film is very careful not to take sides in the actual conflict; it feels like Levy wants this movie to be seen by people on both sides of the issue. Some might see this is moral cowardice, but it’s a canny move since the filmmakers want to help people on both sides accept the basic humanity of the people on the other. The film is consistently quite good. There’s a wonderful scene of the two fathers trying to chat without bringing up the elephant in the room; they fail, of course. A later scene of Sitruk eating dinner with his birth family is incredibly moving. The film isn’t perfect. There’s one character in particular who has an extremely significant character change for no other reason than that the movie needs to start wrapping up. That character was very well written up to that point, but when he suddenly changes everything about his outlook in one single scene, it’s more than a little jarring and feels particularly cheesy by virtue of being about the only really emotionally false moment in the film. Anyway, I really liked the film; smart, emotionally driven writing, beautiful direction and a cast of excellent performances. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – film about babies switched at birth examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a micro level and discovers the humanity of all parties; richly emotional and never preachy. 3 ½ stars.