The Other Son is a film about two men on the verge of turning eighteen, one born to a Jewish family, the other to an Arab family. The day they were brought into this world, the hospital where they were born was evacuated. During the evacuation the boys were switched and given to different families. 18 years after the fact they, and their loved ones, must face the realities of the switch, as well as the undertones of their respective children being brought up by an opposing culture.
Going into this film I had little knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I knew the gist of what I had been taught in school, and aside from Josh Appignanesi’s The Infidel, have very little recollection of a movie that attempted to build a world inside of the politics to create a story out of contrast with both humor and drama.
While I was a bit lost in references I did manage to find common ground with the film, having felt stretched between two separate families. I also found the scenes in which Yacine and his family are all but ridiculed at a border check point akin to the recurring scenario’s where my Hispanic heritage is treated every couple of decades or so with no small amount of disrespect when some shitty politician needs a scapegoat and uses Mexico as their target and I am, by all intents and purposes, guilty by skin. Probably a bit more blunt then you’re used to reading from me, but it’s an easy enough scenario to put in contrast with understanding and realizing the world of the film.
While the film does cover politics in some small outbursts and again in passing background style, the film is more about the two young men whose worlds have been turned upside down by the fact that they, themselves, are forced to deal with an identity crisis few people can really understand. I do.
Do you ever tell the family you never knew you had that you love them? Does it harm the only family you have ever known? Does it harm the family you never knew you had when you don’t? Do you feel like a trespasser when you meet your brothers and or sisters for the first time, no matter how obliging they attempt to make you feel? Do you feel like a jerk when you can’t bring yourself to favor them equally like the brother or sister you knew your whole life? What if there is a disagreement? Whose side do you take, right or wrong? I’ve been there, done that, made the wrong decisions, made the right decisions, but everything feels awkward and wrong no matter what. That’s what we see in Joseph and Yacine as they navigate this cruel hurdle life has thrown at them. Maybe not the most powerfully formed story, it feels a bit loose here and there, but one that will act as a conversation stimulator and create new grounds of discovery for an inquiring mind that loves to learn.
The Other Son looks pretty fantastic. The only time I had issues was during one night scene where car headlights wash out some of the black levels with an unnatural white hue. Though grain is present, it feels natural, absorbing into the background of the film.
~Making Of: Looking to learn a bit more about the country and it’s strife I checked into this Making Of featurette. Not very informative but interesting to learn that the film was praised by its actors for including Palestinian, Israeli, Christian, Muslim, French crew members all into one production.
~Deleted Scenes: Worth a quick look.
~Bloopers: Believe it or not.