The Other Story, directed and co-written by Avi Nesher, does have some charm but is nowhere near as intriguing as the premise would make it appear to be. An Israeli melodrama, the film tells two interconnected stories: one following a woman about to marry a man of whom her family does not approve, and the other about a woman in marriage counseling because her husband wants to leave her.
The movie’s message about freedom of expression in a repressive society is painfully obvious and unsubtle, so much so that it loses much of its impact. Nesher’s intentions are certainly well-meaning, but good intentions can only go so far. Without a meaningful way of delivering that positive message, it is unlikely that the film will connect with its intended audience.
The main storyline in the movie, of the daughter set to marry an untrustworthy man, is relatively generic and standard. Although the character’s identity crisis that stems from the conflict between her loyalty to her family, her fiance, and her religion is somewhat compelling, that is not the focus of this part of the story. Instead, the focus is on her family attempting to sabotage her wedding, which is not a compelling storyline by any means.
The more interesting storyline is the subplot, which is almost fitting given the film’s title. The story involving the woman going through marriage counseling (led by the father of the young woman at the heart of the main story) is surprisingly interesting. Perhaps this is in part due to the fascinating and extraordinary circumstances that led to the conflict, however, the more likely reason is that this storyline is rooted in cultural ideas that are unique and lesser-known to American audiences.
Despite the uneven story, the character development is surprisingly strong. Since the movie is mostly character-driven, this does allow the film to be mostly compelling despite the otherwise lackluster writing. The movie is written in a way that makes it easy to sympathize with the characters and their situations, and as a result, the conflict feels much more substantial and interesting.
The lead of the film, Joy Rieger, gives a compelling performance whose emotional depth makes up for the lack of depth in the story. She is able to sell the character quite well, countering the melodramatic nature of the narrative to provide a more grounded effect to the movie as a whole. She is complemented well by Yuval Segal, who plays her father in a way that is more subtle but still effective.
On a technical level, the film is ably-made even if it doesn’t fully take advantage of its opportunities. There are a few very well-shot sequences, including one involving a ritual, but there are also plenty of scenes that felt blandly-made and underbaked. The movie certainly would have been better off had it used the camera in a more eye-catching and aesthetically-appealing way.
The Other Story is an ambitious film that has a lot on its mind — it just isn’t able to say it in a way that will maintain your attention. However, the movie may be able to connect with audiences regardless.
The Other Story is now playing in select theaters.