Gett: The trial of Viviane Amsalem

According to Orthodox rabbinical courts (Beth din), the only way for a woman to obtain a divorce, is for her husband to grant her one. Gett: The trial of Viviane Amsalem is an apt title for Israeli sibling directors Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s film (“get” is the Hebrew word for divorce). Even if Viviane’s husband, Elisha (a marvelously taciturn Simon Abkarian), refuses to grant her a divorce, Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) can sue him to obtain it. From the start, it is clear that this is a loveless marriage, and that Viviane has put up with Elisha for far too long. So why won’t he give her a divorce? Honor, pride, or simply because he’s a mean SOB. The three elderly Rabbis/judges are no help to Viviane. To say that they  decide in favor of the husband is an understatement. In private, Elisha promises divorce, only to refuse once in court. Some times Elisha does not show to court at the schedule time, dragging the case for months and years. Meanwhile all the judges tell a frustrated Viviane is that they can’t do nothing about it. But her husband’s counsel (Elisha’s brother, a Rabbi) and the judges are allowed to question Viviane’s morality, even accusing her lawyer of having sex with her. It has indeed, as the title say, become her trial. If the point of the film was to denounce how misogynist and unjust such laws and tribunals are, the filmmakers have effectively done so. Everything in the Gett: The trial of Viviane Amsalem seems to strike the right balance. The whole film is set inside the court and its waiting room, so the direction is minimalist and restrained. Screenplay and dialogue is most important in such film. One of main the reason the works so well is because of the excellent company of actors, topped by the powerful performance from Ronit Elkabetz as Viviane. Although the film is fictional, not based on an actual trial, this is a believable account of what probably sometimes happen. Unfortunately.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Gett: The trial of Viviane Amsalem

Directed by:
Ronit Elkabetz
Shlomi Elkabetz
Screenplay by:
Ronit Elkabetz
Shlomi Elkabetz
Ronit Elkabetz
Simon Abkarian
Gabi Amrani
Dalia Berger
115 min.
Rated Parental Guidance
In Hebrew and Fench with English subtitles

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