In the Night
The Other Son
Joseph (Jules Sitruk), a teenager, lives with his mother, Orith (Emmanuelle Devos), and father Alon (Pascal Elbe), an army commander, in Israel. Yacine (Medhi Dehbi) lives with his parents, Said (Khalifa Natour) and Leila (Areen Omari), in the West Bank. Little does any of them know that Joseph and Yacine were actually switched at birth until Joseph undergoes a blood test that proves that he can't actually be Orith and Alon's biological son because he has the wrong blood type. How will Yacine and Joseph's family handle the news? What might happen if the two sons become friends?
Director/co-writer Lorraine Levy focuses more on the human drama and the evolving dynamics between Yacine and Joseph rather than on generating suspense or surprising you with plot twists and turns. The only modicum of tension derives from trying to figure out whether or not their complication situation will lead to bloodshed especially given then ongoing conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. There's one ephemeral Hitchcockian moment toward the end where Levy escalates that tension quite palpably. The rest of the film feels poignant and, most importantly, very believable and human. That sense of realism isn't a testament to the screenplay as much as it's a testament to the well-nuanced, natural performances by everyone onscreen, especially Jules Sitruk and Medhi Dehbi. If anyone were to over-act or if the musical score were too overbearing, The Other Son could have easily veered into soap opera territory. Levy skillfully balances the film's sweetness and darkness in ways that make the film quite easy to watch without making you cringe or roll your eyes. Cynics, though, might be disappointed that Levy doesn't take the film into darker territory and that she has a quite optimistic view of Palestinian and Israeli relations.
The Other Son remains a tender, warm and heartfelt drama that's grounded in humanism. It's one of the best foreign films of the year.