Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Exploring Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem

This was one of those Oscar hopefuls that just didn't get enough of a push to make it to the awards. However it was found worthy by other awards shows. And I can understand why.
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem tells the story of one woman in Israel who desperately wants to part with her spouse only to be run through the ringer by the court system and the Jewish laws that essentially give the husband all of the rights in the matter. This is a film of attrition, so beware upon entering... you will get incredibly frustrated and want to shout at the screen. For the sake of all the other moviegoers around you, please don't.
Perhaps this doesn't connect back directly to the current feminist situation in America, but in theme one can easily draw lines from the one issue to the other. Equal wages for equal work and equal power and justice in a courtroom share similar places in my mind. And certainly there is a heavy feminist element to this film. It is just trapped in an even more archaic way of living. There is much that I commend about the Israeli way of life, but in this capacity... any time a religion is allowed to strangle a court, that is a failure on the government's part. Actually, there is an even deeper metaphor there considering the awkward state of our court system in this country.
But enough of metaphors for now. In Gett I found a truly interesting concept for a film. We are never allowed to leave the halls of the court house... as her life constantly forced back by those constraints. We never get a clear view of what their home life may have been like... simply the "he said she said" that the judges would be forced to witness. It's a rather exciting and impressively inexpensive way to make a feature film and I can't commend Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz enough for keeping it interesting almost completely to the end. Still, it is not a perfect film and the retake after retake of the same argument does in many ways get stale by the final scene. But I don't dislike the film for going on too long as I so frequently have argued in other cases. In fact, the nature of Viviane's predicament seems to ask for such an overextension. It feels right even if a little tedious.
If you like courtroom dramas... and you feel up to watching one specific case get argued to death when the correct answer seems obvious... rather if you wanna agree with a film for its entire runtime, give Gett a shot.

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