Sunday, April 21, 2013

Flabergasted 2

What is it about this French/Israeli film The Other Son?

In my earlier post on it (Flabergasted, 16/4), I reported its director, Lorraine Levy, saying she was flabergasted at something or other. Today, after listening to Jason Di Rosso's interview with her on Radio National's The Final Cut, I'm the one who's flabergasted!

Here's some of Di Rosso's introductory patter:

"... Emmanuelle Devos in the role of the secular, French-Israeli mother is an extraordinary presence. While the film straddles the Israeli dividing wall, on the one side depicting the dusty streets and herds of animals, the other depicting the gleaming consumer paradise and immaculate beaches, it's never as convincing as when Devos is on the screen. She embodies this film's generous, thoughtful idea of what heroism is, and perhaps she reflects a mildly Eurocentric point of view, and maybe that's unavoidable given the film's pedigree. When I met up with Lorraine Levy this week, we spoke about cultural baggage and the difficulty of telling a story equally from both sides."

Here's his first question:

"There's a challenge for you in this film because, essentially, your point of departure is going to be more sympathetic to the French-Jewish characters in the film more than you are to the Arabic [sic] characters, the Palestinians. How did you deal with that? Because that, I assume, is the danger for you approaching this territory because you kind of need to be even-handed in this film."

And here's Levy's response:

"I find your question amusing. Are you suggesting that, as a woman, I can't project myself into the psychology of a man?"

Di Rosso explains - and here's where I start getting annoyed:

"I know what you're saying but I suppose what I didn't mention was the question of class and I'm wondering how it must be difficult for anyone from a Western, industrialised country like France or Australia to put themselves in the mindset of the kind of Arabic [sic] family you're depicting in this film."

The near 100-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict is a class conflict?! Incredibly, Di Rossi appears to be completely unaware of the Israeli occupation, let alone Israel's ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Is it really asking too much to expect an ABC presenter such as Di Rosso to have an elementary grasp of the nature of this key international issue?

But that's not all - it appears we've got a case of folie a deux on our hands here. Just listen to Levy's response:

"Obviously I had to do a lot of prep work in order to learn. For 4 months before the movie I went over there to meet people and many doors were opened to me. I got to talk to a lot of people, exchange ideas, have a look at a lot of family photo albums as well, and that was a great way for me to do my prep work. I had been to Israel before as a tourist and I've been to many Arab countries. In a way I love Arabic culture and music... with regards to the class issue, yes there is more money in Israel as opposed to the West Bank. I mean, apart from Ramallah, which would stand out as an exception, the West Bank is a very poor area indeed and I wanted to show reality without falling into another extreme. I mean the Palestinian family in the film lives in a house, drives a Mercedes, but the economy is as it is."  

The ECONOMY is as it is?!

Now I'm flabergasted! With a director that clueless, the film's got to be a complete dud.

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