Emotive and politically astute, Live And Become begins in 1984 as thousands of Ethiopian Jews, or Falasha, are evacuated to Israel to escape persecution. The trials of an entire displaced population are boiled down to those of one boy who, separated from his mother in the refugee camp, finds adapting to life in middle-class Tel Aviv tough going. But with multiple religious, political and social issues to cover, the hefty running time is barely enough to cover them all.
Breaking neatly into three segments as the boy Schlomo grows into a man (played by Mosche Agazai, Mosche Abebe and Sirak M Sabahat in turn), the first chunk shows him adapting to his new life as he's adopted by a family of liberals. But there's a twist: Schlomo is actually Christian, so in fear of deportation he quickly immerses himslf in Jewish theology and, thanks to a great performance by Agazai in particular, his utter isolation is deftly portrayed.
"LOFTY INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE"
Somewhere in Schlomo's mid-teens, the pace becomes increasingly episodic and key events - birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs - slip past in rapid succession. And there's a lot of political ground to cover, from the Chief Rabbinate's treatment of the Falasha to the conflict in the Occupied Territories as well as more the universal themes of identity and kinship. But despite the film's lofty international perspective it never becomes preachy and the integration/assimilation debate surrounding immigrants worldwide almost guarantees it will be topical for a long time to come.
However, Schlomo's story is ultimately about finding his real mother, leading towards a conclusion that, although it's far too convenient for such an ambitious work, is still an emotional wrench.
In French, Hebrew and Amharic with English subtitles.