A movie review of “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”: A Golden Globe nominee for best foreign film of 2014, it’s a powerful courtroom drama that could have been called “Divorce Israeli Style.” Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Viviane Amsalem is a Jewish hairdresser who wants a divorce from Elisha, her stubborn and manipulative husband of too many years.
Although they’ve been in Israeli court for three of those loveless years, he won’t let her go. He also fails to provide a reason or to even show up for scheduled court appearances.
That’s the subject of “Gett,” a powerful courtroom drama that transforms itself into a bureaucratic nightmare as rabbinical judges block every attempt Viviane makes to gain her freedom.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,’ with Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Gabi Amrani. Written and directed by Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz. 115 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In French, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Intense close-ups, reminiscent of Carl Dreyer’s silent classic “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” underline the sense that Viviane has become a trapped animal, at one point lashing out at her tormentors.
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The movie is the work of veteran sibling filmmakers Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, who bring fresh urgency to each confrontation. Ronit Elkabetz also plays Viviane, carefully building tension within the character as she reacts to the absurd parade of legal disrespect and logic-starved justice.
A Golden Globe nominee for best foreign film of 2014, “Gett” (or “divorce”) could just as easily be called “Divorce Israeli Style.” It’s also a close cousin to the Oscar-winning Iranian film about marital distress, “A Separation.” It’s tough and unsparing, but the grimness is never gratuitous.