The Other Story is playing through July 3 at Marlene Meyerson JCC as part of their Cinematters Summer Film Screenings.
Director Avi Nesher’s The Other Story, one of Israel’s most successful films of the year, is now playing stateside. This interesting drama, supported by the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund, is a bit of far-fetched story, but at its heart is really about family disputes and relationships. The plot centers on Anat (Joy Rieger, who won the Best Actress Award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival for her starring role in the movie Virgins,) a newly ultra-Orthodox young woman who is preparing to marry Shahar (the singer Nathan Goshen), himself also newly observant. They were dating previously when Shahar was a music star and a drug user and he brought Anat along when he became religious. Anat’s nonreligious paternal grandfather, Shlomo (played by the wonderful Sasson Gabai known to US fans from the Netflix show Shtisel and the Broadway show The Band’s Visit), and her mother, Tali (Maya Dagan), are working to stop the forthcoming wedding and they call upon Anat’s father (Shlomo’s son and Tali’s ex-husband), Yonatan (Yuval Segal from Fauda), from the United States. Like Shlomo, he is a psychologist. Together, they plot one last chance at getting through to Anat.
In parallel the film explores one of Shlomo’s cases – a couple who is having marital difficulties because the wife, Sari (Avigail Harari), is involved in a cult. The two tales become intermingled when Yonatan and Anat get pulled in to help Shlomo. In a convoluted way, the film tries to convey messages about truth, listening to the others and varying perspectives. Tali and Yonatan seem to begin to understand that it’s important to accept your children for who they are, not who you want them to be. The messy plot is saved by the cast’s excellent performances. Rieger is compelling as a young woman, with a difficult childhood, who is searching for meaning in life. Gabai has just the right balance of humor, sarcasm and emotion is his portrayal of the family elder.
I give The Other Story a B+.