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Movie review: Heavy-handed allegory in 'The Other Son'

Published December 21, 2012 11:41 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The "switched-at-birth" story cliché gets bent into awful political pretzels in the maudlin drama "The Other Son."

The Silbergs, Orich (Emmanuelle Devos) and Alon (Pascal Elbé), are a Tel Aviv couple who discover that their 18-year-old son, Joseph (Jules Sitruk), was switched for another baby when the maternity ward was evacuated during a Gulf War SCUD attack. What's more, their biological son is Yasine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi Dehbi), a Palestinian medical student recently returned from school in France.

This premise leads French director Lorraine Levy, who co-wrote the script with Nathalie Saugeon and Noam Fitoussi, into heavy-handed political allegory about the similarities between Israelis and Palestinians — and the stubbornness of Alon, an Israeli military officer, and of Yacine's father, Said (Khalifa Natour), and brother, Bilal (Mahmud Shalaby), to see past the labels. Mostly we're inundated with scene after boring scene of Joseph's existential brooding over his newfound identity crisis.

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'The Other Son'

Opens Friday, Dec. 21, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for a scene of violence, brief language and drug use; in French, Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles; 105 minutes.