The Other Son: No Sibling Rivals

 DATELINE:  Separated at Birth

 

If this were an American film, it would have been played for laughs. Instead, it is a French/Israeli/Palestinian production—and it is serious, but not deadly. It is literally a story of brotherhood.

The story is a tad unbelievable: two young men at age 18 learn that they were switched in a Haifa hospital at birth by mistake. One is a Jew, and one is an Arab. Uh-oh.

The film is in multiple languages, including English and French, and from that perspective is quite a pleasant and cosmopolitan movie. Even more satisfying, though it deals with religious conflict and prejudice, it is basically about nice and good people. So, it is moving to see how the two families must cope.

All the performers are charming, especially the actresses playing the difficult roles of mothers who learn they have the wrong son. The boys are delightful, and their interaction upon learning the true story is inspiring. If you like character drama that is not overwrought, this is your cup of tea.

Some may find it ridiculous that a Jew and Arab would have such trouble with their identities. In the United States, they’d simply chose to be whoever they want, and that would be the end. However, when you live in a country separated by a wall and hostile forces, there is a fly in the ointment.

The fathers of the boys seem to have more difficulty than the mothers, and the hospital that screwed up would be sued for millions in the United States, but there is not even a slight consideration of a legal case. But this is a human drama, and it is heart-felt and carefully directed by Lorraine Levy with all due sensitivity.

Though the two young men are totally unrelated, they become closer than twin brothers, sharing two sets of parents, and being caretakers of each other’s life. This gem is more than worth your time.