Gett: The Trail of Viviane Amsalem

March 1, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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During the box office doldrums between the circle jerk that is the Oscar rush of Fall and the beginning of blockbuster season in May (which is the full on jerk off of the rest of America), there is this quite little period when one can often find hidden gems at the movies. These are almost always the small foreign films that will never make much money and just wouldn’t get seen during the Fall glut of films but are sometimes brilliant, none-the-less. More than once, my favorite film of the year has come from this period. While this one won’t likely be my favorite, it is a strong work worthy of recognition. Taking place entirely in an Israeli courtroom and lobby over the course of several years, the film follows one woman’s herculean task of trying to get a divorce (called a “gett” in Hebrew) without her husband’s support. In the hands of directors Ronit & Shlomi Elkabetz, the Israeli legal system is a shockingly sexist bureaucracy so absurdist it reminded me of Gilliam’s “Brazil” and Heller’s “Catch 22.” In parts, the film was so absurdist that you had to laugh even while the implications were chilling. In this world, women are invisible, even when they are ostensibly the center of attention. Men whirled and fretted and preened and bloviated all in a maelstrom around Viviane (played with a cold fury by director Ronit Elkabetz), second guessing her capacity for rational decision making, all the while revealing her as the only rational one in the room. While the repetition can get a bit tiresome in parts (the film could have perhaps been 20 minutes shorter), there is a powerful message here. This is a clever film from start to finish and well worth the irritation, indignation and surprise it will evoke in you.

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