THERE was plenty of excitement at the opening of this year’s Jewish International Film Festival at the Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick on November 5, which got under way with the premiere of the Israeli divorce drama, Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.
Here is AJN film critic Don Perlgut’s review of Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem:
There are few more dramatic moments captured on film than courtroom interplay, as seen in classic dramas such as Twelve Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird and Judgment at Nuremberg.
Now there’s Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem which is a total courtroom drama.
At its simplest, Gett is Viviane’s (Ronit Elkabetz) attempt to get a gett (religious divorce) from her passive-aggressive husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian).
The action takes place over five years, with countless appearances by Viviane and her advocate Carmel Ben Tavin (Menashe Noy), a secular son of a noted rabbi.
Despite the long-term separation and the clear breakdown of their marriage, Elisha steadfastly refuses the divorce, even when ordered to by the three rabbinic judges, and is even willing to suffer a short stay in jail.
The point of Gett is clear: women, at least in matters of marriage and divorce, are second-class citizens in Israel, and are effectively powerless.
Elkabetz gives a breathtaking performance of controlled fury in the title role as she is a virtual bystander in decisions on her own fate. She also co-directed the film with her brother Shlomi Elkabetz.
It is the clash of characters – judges, witnesses, lawyers and those on trial – that drives the action and most engages the viewer. A tight script (in Hebrew, French and Arabic) gives these characters much to say and do.
Through the Amsalems and their advocates, relatives, friends and neighbours, we see a superb portrayal of Israeli society, frequently infused with moments of black humour. Gett is brilliant in every way.
PHOTO of festival director Eddie Tamir at the JIFF launch at Melbourne’s Classic Cinemas on November 5.