Sunday, 31 March 2013

GROWING PAINS: Two coming-of-age films illuminate the complex dynamics of race and family

MY SON IS NOT MY SON: Directed by Lorraine Lévy, Le Fils de L'Autre (The Other Son) is a moving and thought-provoking French tale of two young men -- Joseph (an Israeli) and the other, Yacine, a Palestinian -- who discover they were accidentally switched at birth, touching off a series of complicated repercussions while raising questions about hospital negligence and the true meaning of family, while elucidating the complex, long-standing conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians. The actors, particularly the young leads Jules Sidruk and Mehdi Dehbi, are wonderful, elevating this humane and surprisingly hopeful film into a compelling and emotional exploration of the many facets of self-identity, race, class and family. One of the best foreign films of the past year. [French with English subtitles. 110 minutes]. B+

THY BROTHER'S KEEPER: The idea that blood is thicker than water is the adrenaline that fuels My Brother The Devil, an athletically gritty and loose-limbed film about two Egyptian brothers, Rashid (James Floyd) and Mo (Fady Elsayed), grappling with growing pains, drugs, gang violence and sexuality in the rough-and-tumble neighbourhood of Hackney, one of London's most ethnically-mixed and historically volatile neighborhoods. Headed on a collision course of conflicting desires, each young man is forced to face himself and confront the brother he thought he knew. It marks an engrossing debut from director Sally El Hosaini, and is as authentic, emotionally complex and powerfully acted as any film you'll see this year. Unsurprisingly, it has won multiple awards, including at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at LA Outfest. [English. 111 minutes]. A-

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