Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem ★★★★

Marriage and religion are but mere institutions. Love is just an idea. And free will? Perhaps it is inevitable, perhaps only an illusion.

While I appreciated Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz's Golden Globe-nominated film more than I loved it, there's much to appreciate. Vaguely reminiscent of two of my favorite films - Rashomon (1950) and 12 Angry Men (1957) - Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is set almost exclusively in a Rabbinical courtroom, as the title character (also Ronit Elkabetz) simply seeks an end to her relatively undramatic marriage of many years. While trapped in that drab white setting with a script that seems more suited for the stage, the distinctiveness of the directors' cinematic conveyance emerges in terms of point of view - sometimes overt (the first shot of the film as Viviane's husband looks over at us), sometimes more subtle (a glance down at Viviane's exposed leg after a man testifies). And although the narrative saunters a few too many times between tragedy and farce, it also just manages to transcend a very specific and narrow indictment of the sexist Israeli judicial system to expose the broader clashes between those aforementioned institutions, ideas, inevitabilities, and illusions.

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