DVD Review: Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem

The characters of Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) and Elisha (Simon Abkarian) will be familiar to some. They have previously appeared in the Elkabetz brothers’ To Take a Wife and The Seven Days. The former followed Viviane through her unhappy marriage, whilst the latter focussed on time spent apart. In Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem proceedings move into court. There have been many brilliant and intense courtroom drama over the years, from the classic 12 Angry Men to Kramer Vs Kramer. Gett is up there amongst the best,, and is almost thrilling at times.

After many years of unhappy marriage Viviane has finally taken the steps to get a divorce. Unfortunately her husband Elisha isn’t prepared to give her one. She takes her case to the Rabbinical Court  but her husband is uncooperative. Represented by Carmel (Menashe Noy) and Elisha by his brother Rabbi Simon (Elijah Amsalem), she spends the next five years attempting to be free of her husband.

In Israel there’s no legal marriage or divorce, all matters are handled religiously and binding under the law. Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem, the final film of the Elkabetz brothers’ trilogy, continues to focus the spotlight on the male dominance in Israeli society. In a society where women obey their men and where women are seen as second class citizens, Viviane fights stubbornly to get her voice heard. Elisha bristles with passive aggressive tension throughout; the mask rarely slips. As someone who lives in a Western liberal democracy where the patriarchal system remains an issue, seeing this kind of discrimination in a modern society puts things in perspective.

Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem is released on DVD by Studio Canal on December 8.

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