In the Spotlight: Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem גט: המשפט של ויויאן אמסלם, To Take a Wife ולקחת לך אישה and The 7 Days שבעה
Although the recent movie GETT stands alone as a masterpiece, audiences may be surprised and delighted to learn that it is the third film in a trilogy. The first film by sibling directors Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz in this series was To Take a Wife (2004). Ronit Elkabetz’s brilliant performance as the wife in a troubled marriage reveals, in shattering dialogue and exquisite detail, how a couple can live for years enduring mental torture and perpetual misery. It is 1979 in Haifa, and Viviane’s seven brothers cajole and berate her to reconcile with her husband. They attack her with all the traditional reasons for staying in her dysfunctional marriage. By the end of the movie the viewer is left emotionally exhausted and satiated.
The second film THE 7 DAYS (2008) Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz continues the story of Viviane and her family. Maurice, one of nine brothers and sisters, has suddenly died. The family (the same actors as in To Take a Wife) gathers for the traditional seven days of mourning (shiva) in which they are not allowed to leave the house. Old resentments, jealousy, gossip, long term rivalry and financial problems come to the fore. The atmosphere is claustrophobic; the movie is intense and brilliant.
“GETT” is Hebrew for a divorce decree, something which can be very difficult to get in Israel, where rabbinical courts hold jurisdiction and which must be granted by the husband. The movie GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014) is a riveting drama which follows the five-year struggle of Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) to break from her loveless marriage to husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian). Same actors, same intensity—a woman seeking a divorce from her domineering husband in a religiously conservative country. Yet, it has been called ‘a comedy-drama about the complexity of people and the elusiveness of truth.” It would seem that truth varies depending on who you are and where you stand. All dialogue takes place in a barren court room, the cast of characters are witnesses and lawyers who flow in and out; they talk a lot; yet we do not feel the inertia. It is as relentless as an action-adventure picture. The heroine’s plight is the focus of attention, she is the heroine in a narrative she cannot control.
All three films are in Hebrew, Arabic and French with English subtitles.
Shiva is in PAL. It requires a special DVD player; or it can be viewed on any computer.
Reviewed by Dolores Luber
These movies are available free from the Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library at the JCC.
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