Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
2014 | Courtroom Drama | 115 minutes | Hebrew, Arabic, French with English subtitles
Under Israeli law, a wife can only divorce her husband if he gives her a religious “Bill of Divorce” called a Gett. Without a Gett, no divorce. And this is the plight of Viviane Amsalem who requests the religious court to grant her a divorce even though her husband refuses to give her a Gett. The court is composed of three rabbis sitting on an elevated platform overlooking the couple and their lawyers. Viviane has been unhappy with her husband Elisha for many years finding him petty, vengeful, and uncaring. The rabbis request that the couple have a trial reunion in an attempt to reach reconciliation. It doesn’t work. Viviane pleads with the rabbis for help and mercy. The rabbis respond they cannot help her. The law is the law. Elisha then agrees to the divorce if Viviane promises never to be with another man. A desperate Viviane agrees and the divorce is finalized. A personal question: Why didn’t Viviane demand that Elisha never be with another woman after the divorce? Right?
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
- Metacritic Score: 90
Israeli Film Academy Awards: Winner, Best Film; Best Director (Shlomi Elkabetz, Ronit Elkabetz); Best Actor (Menashe Noy); Best Actress (Ronit Elkabetz); Best Screenplay (Shlomi Elkabetz, Ronit Elkabetz)
Chicago International Film Festival: Winner, Best Screenplay (Shlomi Elkabetz, Ronit Elkabetz)
Hampton’s International Film Festival: Winner, Golden Starfish Award for Best Narrative Feature
The film received a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score
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The direction is a masterstroke because it adds a literary or even poetic dimension to the movie, finding a visual analogue to the idea that the truth varies depending on who you are and where you stand. Every touch enriches or builds out the story, anyd yet, GETT never loses focus on the heroine’s plight.
GETT is an improbably exhilarating and anger-fueled feature directed by the film’s star, Ronit Elkabetz, and her brother Shlomi, about a woman’s arduous impossible trek through the Israeli divorce court—a theocratic realm where any attempt to mete out justice is hamstrung by theology and sexism and where a not-yet-ex-husband has more power than the judge.
With her dramatically pale face framed by a voluptuous dark cloud of hair, Ms. Elkabetz is never more effective than when she’s holding still, her face drained of emotion. That’s why every so often the filmmakers fill the screen with her face, allowing you to traverse its planes and reach its lines and, in the process, discover a woman who—even as she has been denied her freedom—retains a stubborn, transcendent humanity.
GETT is tough and unsparing, but the grimness is never gratuitous.
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