Live and Become

Live and Become

With the secret 1985 airlift of thousands of Ethiopian Jewish refugees into Israel as a historical starting point, writer-director Radu Mihaileanu turns one fictional boy’s story into a loaded, didactic drama about survival, adaptation, and identity. Make that really loaded: At the urging of the mother he left behind, the hero of Live and Become hides his Christian identity and passes as a Jew for political sanctuary, then faces Jew-on-Jew bigotry in his adoptive country. In Mihaileanu’s 1998 Train of Life, Jews passed as Nazis to survive; the filmmaker clearly likes the big stretch. B-

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