Starring Emmanuelle Devos, Pascal Elbe, Jules Sitruk, Mehdi Dehbi and Khalifa Natour. Written by Lorraine Levy and Nathalie Saugeon. Directed by Lorraine Levy. Produced by Eric Amouyal, Raphael Berdugo, Frederic de Goldschmidt and Virginie Lacombe.
The beauty of this film lies in its precise balance between its emotional and cultural aspects. The idea of a Palestinian child and an Isreali child being accidentally switched at birth growing up in the wrong families sounds like it could either turn into another watered down version of something like Pocahontas or an interesting in depth look at the human side of this equation. Luckily, we were spared the melodramatics, instead being thrust into a well-developed story about the transforming lives of each character. Joseph (Sitruk), a boy raised by Jewish parents and growing up of Jewish faith deals with his identity and the discovery of his Palestinian heritage, while his mother and father learn how to accept this fact and simultaneously build a relationship with their blood son. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Yasine (Dehbi) experiences the conflict his heritage creates between him and the radicals in his village, including his brother, and experiences a brand new lifestyle. Meanwhile, his family works hard to keep this a secret to protect their son and also welcome sonso to their family.
Without a great deal of external conflict, the story captivates us with its progression of the characters towards harmony with themselves and each other. It represents self-discovery as well as a similarity and understanding between these two cultures. No battle erupts, nor does a tragedy occur, but we feel as though one has with how close we feel to the characters. The combination of good writing and acting allows us to identify with all of the characters and ponder what we'd do in a similar situation. Every character is fleshed out, which is something we don't see very often- even Yasine's hot-headed brother, Bilal proves to be dynamic and challenges his ideals at some point before the film ends.
An understated and nuanced approach to something as controversial as the conflict between Palestine and Isreal avoids social and political stances and concentrates on the human element of the story, making The Other Son a fresh and universally accessible film.