Film review: ‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem entirely takes places in an Israeli courtroom and the waiting area just outside.

Three and a half stars

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Menashe Noy. Directed by Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz. Not rated. Opens Friday.

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is a courtroom drama in the truest sense: The entire movie takes place in an Israeli courtroom and the waiting area just outside, following the years-long case as the title character (Ronit Elkabetz) attempts to obtain a divorce from her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian). Thanks to Israeli law, divorce can only be granted by a rabbinical council, and only if the husband consents, which Elisha does not. So Viviane has to endure a series of humiliating hearings, rounding up testimony from friends and neighbors to “prove” that she deserves a divorce. The movie could just be a two-hour lecture, but star Elkabetz and her brother Shlomi, who co-wrote and co-directed, make it into an affecting and even suspenseful human drama. The limited locations and claustrophobic shooting style help align the audience with Viviane’s sense of being trapped and helpless. For both Viviane and the viewer, the end of the trial eventually brings equal parts catharsis and melancholy.

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