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July 11, 2019 5:54 am

‘Other Story’ Film Hits Highs and Lows in Discussing the Orthodox World

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

A scene from ‘The Other Story.’ Photo: Strand Releasing.

Parents don’t always approve of who their children marry. But when they try to stop the wedding, things can get messy.

That’s the case in Avi Nesher’s film The Other Story, as the lead character of Anat Abadi has become religious and is set to marry ultra-Orthodox singer Shachar. Anat (Joy Rieger) is studying in a seminary and is proud that her husband, played by Israeli singer Nathan Goshen, can use his voice to bring people together. They had previously been secular, and the change has infuriated her mother Tal and grandfather Shlomo.

The film boasts some fine performances, such as Sasson Gabay of Shtisel as the hilarious and at times rude grandfather. Rieger is also strong as a woman who wants to prove that she has changed for the better, and that being religious doesn’t make her any less of a person. Yuval Segal from Fauda plays Anat’s father Yonatan with great care as a doctor who was largely absent from his daughter’s life, but is now trying to make up for it. But is it too little, too late?

The film explores the divide between the religious and the secular in an interesting way, but it doesn’t go deep enough into the history of the lead couple. The problem with the movie is that there isn’t enough tension. We see a glimpse of the couple’s past, but it’s not enough to make us care.

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There is a scene with women who may or may not be in a cult — which is utterly pointless. The same applies to a subplot with one of Yonatan’s patients. Goshen doesn’t get enough screen time, and it would have been beneficial to see some of his struggle. Instead, when he is caught red-handed doing something that could cost him a chance at his bride, his character is defeatist and boring.

It is great to see Rieger’s power, and it is also praiseworthy that the film has the sophistication to avoid demonizing either the secular or the religious, but simply to paint the picture of how they really are. But the film has weaknesses as well.

The Other Story is easy to relate to, in the sense that most parents want to protect their children from harm, but need to balance that with giving them the freedom to make their own decisions. This film is worth a look, due to some fine dialogue and great acting, despite being a bit predictable and not going far enough into the souls of the characters.

It will also likely make you extra careful of your future in-laws.

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