The Other Son (2012) Poster


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A moving, involving movie
richard-178719 April 2013
I'm surprised that there are only two reviews - now three - of this movie on IMDb. It got a very good review when it played up in Cleveland, and since I couldn't make the trip up there to see it, I waited and rented it from Netflix. It was worth the wait.

The situation is straight out of an early Shakespeare comedy: two babies are switched at birth by mistake in a maternity ward, such that a Jewish Israeli family raises a young Arab and a Palestinian family raises a young Jewish Israeli. Just short of their 18th birthdays, they learn the truth.

The first part of the movie deals with the reactions of the four parents. All four actors give truly moving, first-rate performances. The Jewish father is an officer in the Israeli army, someone who has spent his life fighting Arabs. Still, he is torn apart by what he perceives as the loss of his son. The Arab father doesn't know how to react: is he now harboring a hated Israeli in his own poor home? But he, too, loves his son very much, and cannot deal with the thought of losing him.

The two mothers also experience a feeling of loss, but are able to speak to each other in ways that the two fathers, for political reasons, cannot.

The son of the Jewish couple finds acceptance in the Palestinian family through a mutual love of music. It is less clear how the son of the Arab couple will fit in the Jewish family. Will Yacine be able to tolerate living with an Israeli army officer? How will his family deal with that? The movie, as I said, is based on a clichéd theatrical device, but there is nothing clichéd about the acting or the script here: it all seems very real, and often very intense. It never seems fake. Unlike what the other two reviews suggest, not everything is resolved here by the end of the movie. That would have been too pat, too American-TV.

I strongly recommend this movie. It's really well done.
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Sensitive, intelligent and compassionate
A M21 November 2012
This is an excellent piece of cinema, treating of a very tricky and complex question with intelligence, sensibility and heart. Extremely well acted, the characters are full of warmth, and both sides in the end seem equally right. Of course, we wish the current conflict could be sorted with the same compassionate approach but sadly this would be naive. Still, the film gives a very hopeful message that one likes to believe in. I am just back from Israel and feel the atmosphere of the movie is very true and genuine. If only understanding each other's culture could be done in a similar heartfelt way.

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Question Identity in the Face of Change - Elegantly and Maturely Handled.
akash_sebastian6 September 2013
Two teenage boys and their families, living on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian border, come to know that the boys were accidentally switched after their birth in a hospital. Such a situation set across such an enmity-filled landscape could very well be expected to escalate into chaos and violence, but thankfully, the uneasy situation and the extraordinary story is well handled, and without being melodramatic.

Lorraine Levy skilfully and essentially makes it a general human story, getting past its national and traditional boundaries. It tries to question identity in the face of change; genetics vs upbringing, religion, goals, where do we actually belong?, and what actually matters? The two teenage leading characters in the movie, Joseph and Yacine, deal with the situation and these questions with a certain level of maturity and sensibility, which comes from their background of education and non-inclination towards religious extremism. It also helps that the two sets of parents are intelligent and good-willed people who guide the boys to an informed and sensible transition. And that's where the beauty of the story lies.

The acting by the two leads, Jules Sitruk and Mehdi Dehbi, and the remaining cast is commendable, but it's Emmanuelle Devos, as Joseph's mother, who stands out from the rest. The scene in which the details of the birth-switching is disclosed to the two families is quite heart-rending. And the scene in which Joseph, in a moment of inspiration, starts singing an Arabic song in front of his birth-family to distract everyone from the awkward atmosphere, is quite delightful.

(A particular song used in the trailer as well as the movie, Yael Naim's 'My Dreams', is quite a beautiful and meaningful one)
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What does it mean to have been switched at birth?
Red-1254 August 2013
The French film, "Le fils de l'autre," was shown in the U.S. with the title "The Other Son" (2012). It was co-written and directed by Lorraine Levy. As the title suggests, the movie plot hinges around two young men, born at the same time in the same hospital, who were switched by mistake. To make the situation even worse, one set of parents is Palestinian, and one is Israeli.

Once everyone comes to the realization that the mistake truly happened, the men are faced with the knowledge that their "parents" aren't their biological parents, their religion is not what it would be if the switch hadn't happened, and their position within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been reversed.

The only good news is that both sets of parents, and both of the young men, are people of good will. They all want to work out some sort of arrangement that will make this bizarre situation a little less painful.

The knowledge about the switch is a life-altering event for all six people. How they survive--or don't survive--this event is what makes this such a fascinating film. This movie will work well on DVD. I suggest you seek it out and watch it. It will repay the effort
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Not a feel good, but not a feel bad either; about an impossible situation
darcymoore3 June 2013
I'd reached the point some time ago where I stopped watching films about the holocaust and the intractable Palestine-Israel situation. Then I saw a review of this film that suggested something other than bleak, bleak, bleak and get out the razor for humanity's wrist. So I watched it.

It took the life-affirming premise that even in the worst of situations, which the dispossessed Palestinians have been enduring for more than 60 years, people generally want to live, laugh, have friends, love and, most of all, stay alive. Strapping explosives to your chest is NOT the norm there, even for impressionable young men.

What I saw was a very human story of parents and children trying to come to terms with a sudden reversal of reality. Messy, untidy, forcing a rethink of lifelong prejudices in the face of a farcical bureaucratic mix-up.

The mothers ache with a visceral sense of loss. The fathers quietly rage (and in one sequence not so quietly) in their dumbfoundment. The kid sisters take people as they find them. The boys are stupefied .. to begin with. Then the everyday takes over. Having to absorb it all, then go on living. And all get wiser, a little more worldly, a little less inclined to stereotype. A little richer.

Unlikely? I don't think so. As has often been observed, "Travel broadens the mind." And there's nothing like a good emotional somersault to do exactly that. People can and do change. It didn't feel like a film, more like watching through hidden cameras as life unfolds.
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Required viewing for anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestine conflict
Paul Allaer16 March 2014
"The Other Son" (2012 release from France/Israel; 105 min.) brings the story of 2 boys who are about to reach their 18th birthday. As the movie opens, we see Joseph applying to enlist at an elite unit of the Israeli Air Force, requiring him to do various medicals tests. It isn't long before his parents learn that Joseph's blood type (A+) is not compatible with theirs (A=). After some investigating, it becomes clear that two babies were switched accidentally at birth. The other 18 year old is Yacine, whose family lives in Palestine's West Bank. Joseph is devastated when he finds out about the mix-up at birth. But what about Yacine in Palestine? And how will their families react? And their friends? To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, kudos to writer-director Lorraine Lévy for bringing us this movie. The plot is entirely believable, and Levy treats the subject matter with dignity and respect. As you can well imagine, this is a delicate topic and if not done properly, it will ruin the movie. When the impact of it all hits Joseph, he wonders "Am I still Jewish?". Even more importantly, this movie shows again that, when you put politics aside for a moment, at the end of the day we are dealing with real human beings. Watch how the Jewish and Palestine mothers deal with the news that the sons they have raised are not their own...

Bottom line: this movie should be required viewing for anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. No, "The Other Son" is NOT a political movie, but instead is a heartbreaking family drama with a political undercurrent. "The Other Son" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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'We are all human, we can all be family.'
gradyharp15 September 2013
While the world continues to struggle to understand the constant schism between Palestine and Israel and yet permutations of that unsettled hot fire whose coals continue to smolder between aggressive flares, along comes a film such as this one - THE OTHER SON or Le fils de l'autre - and provides some insights that at least for the moment offer a better understanding of a very long struggle. Based on an idea by Noam Fitoussi who wrote the screenplay with Director Lorraine Lévy and Nathalie Saugeon, this is a gentle film about resolution of conflict - at least on the family level. It is a French production filmed in the West Bank and Israel under the sensitive direction of Lorraine Lévy.

It's not uncommon for those who rightly resent being biologically categorized on government questionnaires, to defiantly write in 'human' when asked to indicate their race. And the same holds true in its own compelling but curious way for the switched at birth DNA-driven identity crisis drama, The Other Son.

The relative stability of the two families in question - the Israeli Silbergs (Emmanuelle Devos and Pascal Elbéand) the Palestinian Al Bezaaz (Areen Omari, Khalifa Natourkin, and older son Mahmud Shalaby) in the West Bank - is shaken up when eighteen year old Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk) puts his musical aspirations on hold to report for mandatory military duty. But an army blood test confirms that he could not be the child of his parents, an odd stratagem, that a military on such permanent alert would be so thorough, especially since Joseph's father is a high ranking commander. But during a Gulf War missile attack near the Haifa hospital where Joseph was born, a Palestinian mother gave birth at the same time. And in the ensuing confusion, the babies must have been released to the wrong women. Joseph's distraught parents first waver, then seek out the Al Bezaaz family. And Yacine (Medhi Dehbi), their designated 'other son' in question, who has returned home for a visit from his medical school studies in France. While alternately fearful and hopeful mixed emotions become entangled, compounded by a profound cultural divide along with two fathers into deeply disapproving denial. Yet it is the coming together of the three 'brothers' that offers a ray of nope that in time this festering conundrum may be resolved.

The cast is splendid, especially Jules Sitruk and Medhi Dehbi whose humanity holds the story together. Highly recommended. In French, English, Arabic, and Hebrew with subtitles.

Grady Harp
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Arising from the police state brutality and hatred - a film about hope
peter henderson20 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A hospital mix up results in an Israeli army colonel and his wife raising a Palestinian baby as their son, while a Palestinian family raise the Israeli baby as their son. The film deals with the discovery of the administrative error, while raising the obvious question - why apartheid is alive and well in Israel.

OK. Let's deal with the "elephant in the room" criticism of the happy (or at least positive), Hollywood ending out the outset. David Stratton (ABC TV Australian 20/4/13) summed it up..."The resolution Levy proposes isn't  entirely satisfactory however and there is a nagging feeling that this scenario is a little bit too schematic"

Remember, it was the Sabras who finally imposed their reluctance to obey orders and break the bones of rock throwing Interfada demonstrators that changed the way these matters were policed. Why could it not be the same Sabras who take on their elders over the way the country is governed?

There is a great quote in a 1998 back packers tourist guide that makes this idea plausible

"Israel adores its children they are indulged, undisciplined, ill mannered and forgiven by everyone.Even dare to mention that they might be a nuisance and eyebrows will be raised. Somehow their exuberance and enthusiasm, their noisy boisterousness, their robust tanned health and energy all seem to symbolize the state itself. Israel too is young and new and vulnerable. But above all the children of today are alive. Even now when Israelis look at the children they are reminded of a dark past and an uncertain future

Surely no film has captured so dramatically the police state mentality that pervades Israeli culture, and not just at the border crossings. Who says the next generation can't be involved in knocking down (both figuratively and literally) the walls so evocatively depicted in this film.

It is the mothers who have garnered the most notice for the quality of their acting. Both Emmanuelle Devos (all grown up since I last saw her in "Read My Lips") and Areen Omari depict a near erotic delight in stroking their estranged sons faces as they are re-united over the course of the film. It is quietly powerful stuff in what is essentially a comedy of manners. The other cast members deliver too. And the cinematography brings the viewer right into the locales

I found myself caring less and less about the criticism of the unlikely resolution as I thought about the film more and more. Like that other outsider's film (Spielberg's "Munich") this film may well change attitudes in Israel, this time for the better. A satisfying and quietly enjoyable film about hope
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One of the most achingly beautiful movies EVER! (:
Warning: Spoilers
What can I say? I love love love this perfect movie! Superb direction (I want to see more of her movies!), beautifully written, excellent camera work, editing, sound, extraordinary use of varied music, locations, casting - the acting is the best ensemble acting I've seen a very very long time! Emmanuelle Devos (Orith Silberg) is the best known, and she is her usual superb self, Areen Omari is a revelation as the arab mother, Khalifa Natour and Pascal Elbe play the "politicized" fathers with an aching poignancy, Mahmud Shalaby plays what could be a caricatured "villain" as a complex young man capable of growth, and the two leads: Jules Sitruk (Joseph Silberg) and especially Mehdi Dehbi (Yacine Al-Bezaaz; I want to see him in more movies!) play such complex characters with warmth, intelligence, bravery, and brilliance.

This movie gets an A+. It's the best movie I have seen in 2013 (it was released in 2011 in France; this is the first I have ever heard of it now in 2013).

the "making of" featurette is fascinating. It made me appreciate the movie even more.

I urge anyone and everyone to see this one of a kind extraordinary humane complex intelligent moving and exceptional motion picture!!!! (:
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The title can be "The other parents" or "The other self" too
Furuya Shiro13 January 2014
Baby switching error at hospital is the same motif with "Like Father, Like Son", but these movies have completely different viewpoints. In case of "Like Father, Like Son", as the wrongly switched children are still very young, the story is told from the parents viewpoint. The key question asked in the movie is: what makes the parent-child relationship true, under the biological relationship is denied. On the other hand, in case of "The Other Son", the wrongly switched children are already 18 years old, intelligent, tough-to-fudge youths. Furthermore, one is a Jew and the other is a Palestinian. Therefore, in this movie the story is told from both of parents' and children's viewpoints, more on the children's viewpoint. Thus, the title of the movie can be "The other parents" or "The other self" too.

In general, in the movies where a family faces an extraordinary problem, fathers are less reliable than mothers. In this movie too, the first reaction of the two fathers is to deny the fact. They try to think as if nothing happened. Mothers, however, immediately face the issue, share empathy with the other. Well, I am a man, but I have to agree with this development. The plot is simple. Both parents do not have complicated private background. Still, this is a heart-moving one. The most impressing scene for me was that Joshua suddenly sings at the dinner. Is it a Palestinian song?
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Engaging and Touching Drama
Larry Silverstein9 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I found this rather unique film, directed by Lorraine Levy, to be an engaging and touching drama.

When Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk) goes for his pre-induction physical into the Israeli army, his blood work shocks his parents, Orith and Alon (Emmaneulle Devos/ Pascal Elbe), when his type A+ cannot genetically be possible with theirs of A-. When their doctor investigates it, he finds out that, at the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991, right after Orith gave birth to Joseph, the hospital in Haifa was evacuated during a SCUD missile attack.

The hospital mistakenly switched her baby boy with a Palestinian woman's baby and DNA tests have confirmed this. The Palestinian woman, Leila (Areen Omari) had been visiting a relative in the area but is now living in the Israeli occupied West Bank with her husband Said (Khalifa Natour), the boy Yacine (Mehdi Dehbi) now nearly 18 years old and the rest of her family.

When the parents of the two boys are brought together in the doctor's office, it triggers an enormous amount of emotion and dramatic interplay. I thought it was fascinating to see how each family member reacted to the shocking news, as well as each of their respective communities. Could decades of conflict and mistrust be overcome by kinship and family? I'll let the viewers see the results for themselves.

All in all, I thought Levy and her co-writers did an excellent job of presenting the material in a very engrossing manner. The acting, I thought was first rate as well. Even if it is a little contrived, I enjoyed this different type of drama.
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The complexities if the Israeli - Palestinian world
B Fitz27 May 2013
There is the intense interplay between the pain of the sons and the pains of their parents simultaneously being explored with the back drop of the apartheid and mutual hatred caused by separation and discrimination. You can see this in verbal confrontation between the fathers, each with their own valid views, each honest men trying to do right by their families.

The transformation f both sons and the human connections on all levels would give hope for a peace but for the fact that in reality, the wall exists and there is only hardening of sides going on. The overall character and plot development of this movie is excellent. The lack of card board villains gives the movie a much more honest texture.
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Palestine and Israel: Never an Easy Story to Tell
Jay David28 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The differences between living large as an Jew on the beach in Israel...and living small as a Muslim in the occupied territories (which remind me of Mexico just across the border from Arizona) couldn't be more stark. The director largely succeeds in making this a story about the individuals and their destinies...and not about the larger socio-political questions, which would require him to criticize Israel if he's pro-Palestinian, or criticize Palestine if he's pro-Israel.

Within the story we also see that women are supposedly the mediators of the conflicts created by men (a recent movie from Lebanon dealt with how Christian and Muslim women tried to bring about peace after the Lebanese civil war; I don't know that I buy such a narrative. But the men in the movie are focused on the bigger picture...while the women are focused on the little picture.

The situation of the "son" of the Palestinian couple is less complicated; one doesn't have to be born a Muslim to be a Muslim...and he has been raised a Palestinian, and he is okay with that in spite of all the disadvantages because his mother raised him right (his father's not a bad guy but he seems distant).

The "son" of the Israeli couple, however, sees his identity crumble since one can really not become a Jew (exception in rare situation when conversion is allowed), i.e., he knows that he is really NOT a Jew. And he now knows he was supposed be on the other side of the wall...and because he was raised by a compassionate mother, he has a hard time dealing with his new situation as a Palestinian.

The ending wasn't very satisfying, but the director did avoid what most of us were expecting, some sort of violent ending. I suppose an unambiguous, unresolved ending leaves us some spite of the fact that resolution of this conflict, collectively or individually, is not really possible.
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A movie of undying optimism
Shib Shankar Sikder25 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is about the journey of of two young men from a unfortunate beginning to a life to cherish. It is not a film about two families, in the end it is about the whole world, about the human kind in totality. The story is set in the perspective of Israel-Palestine conflict. The two young men are forced into a state of severe identity crisis. They question their existence in society. But ultimately they find the answer. If they are living each-others' lives, then they should do that for the best. That is the affirmation of human capability for good. The conflict between nations is a manipulated enmity, there is no rivalry among common men. This is the inner social message conveyed.
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A Masterpiece
Jonathan Zsofi27 November 2013
I have seen no greater film than this so far.

It's sensibility to the conflict of people groups, as well as the personal experiences in the spiritual, intellectual and emotional are beyond any other film's treatment.

The actors live out the natural confusion on screen effortlessly. Ultimately, the way in which lives, yearnings, love and hate is weaved into resolution, beauty and peaceful reflection is unparalleled.

It's superb cinematic style makes the story not only brilliant; but a masterpiece in its entirety.

For a film that confronts, and questions much of your heart, mind and soul - I suggest seeing this as soon as you can.
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Identity Crisis
revlindacarter13 September 2017
A blood test reveals that an 18-year-old Israeli is not the son of his parents. The hospital investigates and discovers a well-worn story plot: two boys switched at birth. Only in this case the switch pushes both families into existential crises: Who am I? Who is my son? Why? because the "other" son was born to Palestinian Arabs. The conflicts between peoples and cultures is addressed here, but I found the most significant part of the story when each character begins to explore their own identity. The characters handle their crises with love and care for the sons. The acting and direction are flawless. English subtitles. The pace may be a little slow for American audiences, but have patience, you will be enriched with this film.
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Spoiled by the lack of captions and poor subtitling
emuir-127 April 2017
For some reason, European films only use subtitles when the characters are not speaking in English. As the actors usually have strong accents they are unintelligible when they do use English. I also had a feeling that even when the actors were speaking in Arabic, French or Hebrew we were not always getting subtitles. Captioning was greatly missed.

The other big problem was the miscasting. Jules Sutrik does not look Palestinian, being too light skinned, and did not look at all like his biological brother Bilal. Likewise, Mehdi Dehbi was just a little too dark and more strongly resembled Bilal than either of his Jewish 'parents'. The film would have worked much better if the actors had alternated the roles, as it was I found the miscasting distracting to the point of being unbelievable, rather like a vanity piece where an actor shows off by playing against type or sex. The switched at birth plot is as old as Methuselah and a favorite of Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan and many others. Although it was interesting, the storyline became very corny at times with the families coming together just a little too quickly.
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What is identity
This is a very interesting film that raises many questions about identity in general, not just in the context in Israel. What makes us who we are, our blood or our upbringing? And what happens if we're adopted, is there something, anything inherent in our being that makes us who we are despite the people around us? Purely as a piece of cinematography, it's a good film and well acted. As a social comment, or as a piece of art that raises relevant questions about human social identity, it's a lot more. And what happens in a situation where babies are mixed up, and raised outside the social context of their birth parents? How should both families proceed once they find out about the mix-up? Essentially, a mistake can brings people together. The outstanding problem, remains the society the families live in.
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Interesting movie but not totally believable
sunbreak7-13 March 2013
The movie is a sensitive portrayal of a difficult situation. It does portray a little of the difficulties of cultures with different points of view, but doesn't go that far in that portrayal. However, I don't believe the situation in the movie would be as easily resolved as the movie seems to suggest. One thing that really bothered me is the really poor English subtitle translation. In the trailer it looks normal, but the text the trailer uses is really some of the only times when the English is well translated. The rest of the time it is like using a poor machine translation and sometimes doesn't even make sense in English.
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