Film review: Birth mix-up explores sense of identity

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By Kelly Dolejsi

Immediately upon birth, most of us inherit a culture, race, religion and economic status. We go home to a large house in a modern city, or a shack in an occupied territory. Freedom might belong to us, or it might not. Everything that makes us “us” starts from these facts, over which we have no control.
In other words, who we are depends on whom we are born as.
So what happens if we are switched at birth? Who are we then? “The Other Son” (2013, rated PG-13, French), screening at 6:30 p.m. today at Mesa Public Library, explores this idea with more depth and care than any other I’ve seen.
Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk) and Yacine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi Dehbi) were born as each other.
One lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, while the other resides in the Palestinian West Bank, occupied by troops the first’s father, a colonel, commands. But had they gone home as infants with their correct birth mothers, their situations would be entirely reversed.
The film thoroughly examines the differences between the boys’ lives, and without any contrivance. Even the story of the original mix-up does not feel forced. It is entirely plausible. It has probably happened.
Additionally, director Lorraine Levy eloquently shows how the families attempt to relate, the awkwardness and courage. Emmanuelle Devos (Orith Silberg) and Areen Omari (Leila Al Bezaaz) are stunning. While the boys these two mothers raised will clearly remain their sons, they can’t help but love the stranger they meet now, who was, of course, once inside them.
“The Other Son” is a complicated film that suggests identity and war are two sides of one coin, or of one family.
The Free Film Series presents a movie the first Thursday of the month, thanks to the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries. Look for “The Motorcycle Diaries” to show Sept. 4.
For more information, call the library at 662-8240.