Review: Matt Mungle @themungle
If the film GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM had taken place in America
it would have been a short film with very little dialouge and even less
drama. But in Israel things are much different. Not only must the divorce
be judged and approved upon by a Rabbi but the husband is the only one
with true consent. The wife can scream and plead all she wants but unless
the husband agrees; not even the Rabbi or courts can rule differently.
This dramatic film will exhaust your patience with the system and have
you throwing up your hands in disbelief. Thanks mainly to principle actors.
No real life court room drama has ever held audiences captive like this
one of fiction will.
Viviane Amsalem (Ronit Elkabetz) has been married to Elisha Amsalem (Simon
Abkarian) for over 30 years. To hear her tell it the marriage has been
a horrible ordeal and one that she stayed in only for the sake of family
and culture. She is trying desperately to break free of this man and be
able to live her own life. Elisha on the other hand refuses to allow this.
Even though he complains of the lack of respect she gives him and pretty
much everything else. He silently sits in the court room and to the frustration
of the Rabbi's simply says, "no". Witness after witness comes
and goes and yet he sits silently. The question of whether or not Viviane
will ever be granted her freedom drives the story and keeps the viewer
riveted from start to finish.
Elkabetz delivers a powerful performance and with each scene you see her
get closer and closer to wits end. It is as if society is playing a cruel
joke and she just wants it to end. Menashe Noy plays Viviane's representative
Carmel Ben Tovim. He has little respect for the courts inability to rule
in this arena and storms to and fro demanding justice for his client.
Abkarian in comparison is broodingly quiet and able to move the viewer
to rage without saying a single word. It is his passivity that is so mind
The film is also grand in the way it portrays a culture and judicial
system very foreign to American audiences and society. The courtrooms
are vastly different than the ones here. Void of any decor it is manly
a few folding tables in a white brick room. The separation of church and
state is no where to be found here. Regardless of your stand on divorce
or the characters in the film you cant deny or take issue with the strong
family and Godly devotion that permeates the world of the Amsalem's. Even
the Rabbi's after a while can't decide why Elisha is as stubborn as he
is. Is it his way of silently abusing Viviane? That is up for interpretation
GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM is in Hebrew French and Arabic with
English subtitles. The heavy accents and passionately delivered lines
add depth and power to the film. Though unrated for this country it is
an adult film in regards to the tone and heavy discussion. There are only
a few mild expletives and no violence or crude language. Certainly nothing
to be offended by. I give it 4.5 out of 5 pleadings. Perfectly scripted,
expertly acted, and culturally explicit. One of the best courtroom dramas
I have seen.
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