Review #5: “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” (2014)

Directed by Israeli siblings and actors  Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, Gett is a drama film that was screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. It was selected for best foreign language film at the 87th Academy awards and was nominated for best foreign language film at the 72nd Academy awards.

Gett follows a married couples messy divorce through a Jewish court, using language and dialogue to deliver powerful scenes that gnaw on an audiences nerves. The entire film takes place in a Jewish court house, giving off a feeling of entrapment. You are stuck in time and conflict with Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) and Elisha Amsalem (Simon Abkarian), as the film drags on throughout a courtroom. There is a war between the Amsalem’s; a woman’s war against patriarchy and tradition, and a man’s war against freedom and autonomy. The question of modernity and woman empowerment is contemplated and is answered with gas-lighting .The court like the rest of the world is ruled by men, giving Viviane hardly any breathing room or respect. The boundaries that are imposed on women in this film turns the choices of religion and family structure into forced sanctions. The difference between respect and obedience is blurred by men having the final say in Viviane’s life and trial.

The husband Elisha is cunning and unforgiving. He takes advantage of the male dominated court by showing up whenever he wants to and is given little punishment for it. He uses his obedience to his faith as an excuse to skip court and drag the trial out. There is regressive perceptions of feminist discourse by the men in the courtroom. Elisha crusades for patriarchy and passively intimidates his wife with his shortcomings.

Overall this film is excellent and the acting is fantastic. The script is masterfully crafted, blending languages and cultures into thrilling dialogue. There are a few comedic moments to break up the intensity of the dialogue, but the performances don’t feel forced in any way. Everything feels natural and truthful. The tension throughout the film is steady and thrilling as the trial takes some surprising twists. Gett should’ve gotten an award for the stunning performance from the cast, or in the very least, more nominations.

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