Monday, February 9, 2015
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is part of a recent spate of excellent films about—and often by—Israeli women, including Zero Motivation, S#x Acts, and Jellyfish. But while those others feature situations that could easily have played out in any industrialized Western nation, Gett's Viviane Amsalem (Ronit Elkabetz) is trapped by misogynistic religious laws that feel shockingly archaic.
After 30 years of marriage, all of them unhappy, Viviane is determined to divorce Elisha (Simon Abkarian), who she married when she was just 15 years old. But under the strictures of the Orthodox Jewish law that rules Jewish marriages in Israel, only a husband can end a marriage, and Elisha stubbornly refuses to grant her a get. The entire film takes place in or just outside the drab, claustrophobic rabbinical court where Viviane and her lawyer, Carmel Ben Tovim (Menashe Noy), return every few weeks for more than five years to argue her case. (Elisha doesn't even bother to show up much of the time). The courtroom's cramped, near-featureless air of bureaucratic stagnation becomes oppressive even for the audience, making it easy to identify with Viviane's growing hunger for freedom.
Read the rest in Slant Magazine