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The Other Son - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published April 5th 2013
Director: Lorraine Levy (Mes amis, mes amours)
Cast: Emmanuelle Devos, Pascal Elbe

The premise sounds pure soap opera, which only goes to show that if material is handled with depth and honesty, it can feel fresh and vibrant. This is the story of two babies accidentally changed at birth and the complexities that arise when, 18 years later, the truth comes out. Just to make the scenario that much thornier, one is raised an Arab and the other Jewish.

The story is seen initially from the perspective of the Jewish mother (played by French star Emmanuelle Devos). Before long both families are caught in the turmoil and we experience the prejudices inherent on both sides of the religious and political fence. Both boys confront issues of identity, jealousy and loyalty to their families and faith.

There have been many films dealing with the Israeli/Palestinain division, and there will rightfully be many more. This one tackles its familiar themes without a trace of cliche or predictability.

One gets a real sense of the differing lifestyles of the West Bank and the beaches of Tel Aviv, and the characters on either side of the divide get equal screen time and audience sympathy in this French production.

Given the natural flow of the narrative, its a pity the scenes leading up to the denouement introduce an incident that feels hasty and forced. That said, the very final scene is quite beautiful, saying just enough and leaving the audience to imagine the rest.

Dialogue is a combination of Hebrew, French, English and Arabic.

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*Richard Leathem was invited as a guest
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Why? Soap opera raised to a higher level
Where: At selected cinemas
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