The Other Story (2018) Poster

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Is Truth absolutely the highest value?
chong_an9 September 2018
This is the story of 2 families. The psychiatrist family daughter Anat has followed her musician boyfriend into Orthodox Judaism, and will soon marry. Grandfather Shlomo and mother Tali are desperate to stop the marriage, and get "abandoned her" father Yonatan to come back from the U.S. to help. Meanwhile, Shlomo's few remaining clients include a divorcing couple with a young son caught in a custody battle, with the mother having joined a feminist pagan circle and insisting on bringing her son to its rituals. Eventually, Anat is recruited to join the rituals as an observer, to determine if they are dangerous to the boy. As Yonatan discovers untruths about Anat's boyfriend, Anat has to decide if truth is the an absolute, highest value.

The overlapping family dynamics are intriguing, as well as the hidden motives of various characters. I am not usually into dysfunctional-family stories, but this is a thrilling standout.
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Rewardingly complex but not hard to follow
Nozz30 October 2018
An old criticism of Israeli movies is that because of the nature of Israeli society, too many filmmakers are less eager to present a protagonist we can easily identify with and follow than to present a gang of friends without a clear central focus. Avi Nesher's recent movies, although fascinating to watch, have sometimes lacked a very dominant protagonist and given the audience (by which I mean me) too many characters and too many plot threads to easily keep track of all at once. The Other Story has a lot of main characters but it doesn't suffer from that problem. Initially, it has a different problem. An engaged couple have embraced ultra-Orthodox Judaism and the parents of the bride-to-be want to torpedo the relationship and ultimately persuade the girl to leave the ultra-Orthodox environment. The movie's problem is that the audience (by which I mean me) can't root for either side in the conflict. They're both presented as offputtingly extreme. The movie comes to life when a new couple is introduced, a younger couple who are fighting over their child and over the woman's participation in a pagan cult. Here Nesher has done some interesting casting. He's perhaps Israel's foremost moviemaker today and he can get pretty much any actors he wants. The bride gone ultra-Orthodox, her parents, and her grandfather are all wonderful actors and well-known faces. But the younger couple are not very familiar actors, and that makes them a presence of a different kind; when you see them you don't say "ah, here's one of my favorite actors, this will be good." Their story (The Other Story? Maybe that's one meaning of the title) seems more concrete because the audience (by which I mean me) hasn't seen them outside it. And even as their story impacts the main story and everything affects everything, the movie proceeds without confusion. It takes a couple of strategically inserted speeches of exposition to keep the audience aware of all the background, but the audience doesn't lose track. And the question of who, if anyone, can intervene to save this dangerously unstable young couple, or at least to save their child, gives the plot an impetus that wasn't present in the conflict over living or not living the ultra-Orthodox life.

The movie is the acting debut of singer-songwriter Nathan Goshen. Nesher may have been charmed by the fact that Goshen himself is a musician who did at one point become ultra-Orthodox, like the character he plays, and was even able to contribute a song or two to the movie, but unfortunately his musical contribution is not very compelling. The incidental music, although a little heavy on the sentimental violins, is much better.

The various plot threads ultimately resolve themselves with a kind of Shakespearean simultaneity, and the audience (by which I mean me, and the critics I've read) goes away impressed that Avi Nesher has done it again. If not his best movie ever-- though it has been called that-- then the best-integrated movie of his career's second Israeli phase.
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Marvelous gem
briefexistance26 September 2019
I'm so glad I saw this with the man himself presenting the film in the Monterrey Film Festival. Boom! the credits. When I least expect it, 2 hours have passed, I mean, not many films have that characteristic while maintaining the highest quality in terms of screenwriting and acting. I remember Avi Nesher said its movie don't have the traditional 3 act structure, which makes it very enjoyable in a fresh and interesting way. It was also very cool to watch a Israeli film without clichés or stereotypes, portraying their culture and millennial traditions with respect in a contemporary world. This is proof that if you want to make an incredibly fresh action film you don't need cars, explosions or serial murders. You need a good crew, you need to bring love to your work, you need courage to step outside the conventional boundaries without sacrificing the public's enjoyment. This exhales love and respect for the observer, and I really appreciate it. It's warm, it's interesting, it's new.

BONUS! The song in the bar scene was BEAUTIFUL! I completely loved the quality of the sound, it was very rich and moving, even if I didn't understand a word.
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Life changing film
sschnarch12 November 2018
Wow. The story is so relatable and still has moments of tention, humor and peace. Great point of view on complecated issues in Israeli society.
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Worthy exploration of secular vs. ultra-religious in modern Israel somewhat compromised by unwieldy plot
Turfseer16 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Director Avi Nesher's The Other Story is a notable entry in Israeli cinema chronicling the conflicts between the ultra-religious and the secular. This is one of the main conflicts in Judaism today so the subject matter is certainly quite interesting. Nesher's execution however, is only partially successful.

The film focuses on Anat (Joy Rieger) who falls for an ex-Israeli pop singer Shahar (Nathan Goshen) who has now turned to ultra-orthodox Judaism with Anat falling for and following him in his strict religious ways.

Anat's secular family--consisting of the family patriarch, psychologist Shlomo (Sasson Gabi, well known for his performance as the hated uncle in Shtisel and in the recent Broadway musical, A Band's Visit), her estranged father, a research psychologist Yonatan (Yuval Segal), who lives in the US and Tali, Yonatan's ex-wife--all are alarmed at Anat's sudden embrace of the ultra-religious, but are even more alarmed by having discovered that Shahar has not been able to give up his Oxycodone addiction.

Tali and Shlomo team up to try and undermine the marriage due to their outright contempt for the haredim (ultra-religious Jews). Meanwhile, Yonatan's attempts to reconcile with Anat appear doomed as she is unable to forgive him for abandoning her and the family, and running off to America.

The tension is palpable and the conflicts within the family are drawn nicely. However, there is little complexity when it comes to showing what the ultra-orthodox are like (please watch Shtisel on Netflix to find out in detail about what that insular culture is all about!).

The Other Story becomes unwieldy with the introduction of a subplot involving a warring couple, Rami (Maayan Bloom) and Sari (Avigail Harari) whose marital battle must be mediated by Shlomo upon orders of the Court. Shlomo convinces Yonatan to take over the case despite his lack of experience as a clinician. Soon, most unconvincingly, Anat is brought in as an independent arbiter (apparently she had past social work experience).

It seems Sari's interest in a feminist, pagan cult has convinced Rami that their son is in danger (especially when the child is tied up during one of the cult's rituals). Anat pronounces the ceremony harmless and recommends that the child not be taken away from the mother. Oddly enough, Anat and Sari seemingly bond despite being on opposing sides of the secular ultra-orthodox divide.

Following Shlomo and Yonatan's final recommendation that the parents retain joint custody of their child, Rami kidnaps the son and ends up hiding in a convent in the suburbs. You can probably guess that all's well that ends well with the psychologists along with Anat refusing to turn Rami in and then order the estranged couple to work things out.

There is also another sub-plot involving Yonatan being sued in a lawsuit over a start-up that goes bad. Only the prospect of Yonatan perhaps having to face the music back in the US rings true. but his sudden reconciliation with Anat at film's end--along with Rami and Sari trying to work things out--doesn't exactly feel very credible.

The Other Story is certainly worth seeing with all-around good performances from the thespians involved. See it for the aforementioned well-elucidated exploration of the secular versus religious conflict in Israel today. Only a plot that turns a bit awkward detracts from the film which might have received one or two extra points from a few discerning critics who have already chimed in on the film's (both) positive and negative attributes.
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family drama in israel
cdcrb3 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
There is an awful lot going on here. too, much, probably. conflicts, painful memories, lies, bitterness, religion. drama. and a cop out ending. however, it moves right along, keeps you interested and the actors are all very good. go, enjoy.
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Avi Nesher's best movie
atkinson11226 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Saw it in TIFF (instead of Star is born) and it was just amazing. I cried at the end of the film when the girl runs towards her dad and saw the dad that left me when I was young. I really hope to see more of Nesher's films someday.
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