Gett: 'The Trial of Viviane Ansalem': No Way Out Jewish Style

The injustice of women trapped in unhappy marriages by husbands who refuse to let them go has long been acknowledged in religious Jewish communities. If a woman cannot get a "gett," she is not officially divorced, and therefore is not free to remarry, or continue with conventional domestic life. Shlomi Elkabetz, director of the movie Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem, says that in Israel, the situation is even more egregious because there is no civil recourse as there is in the United States, but then again, in observant circles, the result is the same: the woman remains a social outcast, the husband free to do as he wishes.

Gett shows Viviane in a grim tribunal of unkempt rabbis. Days, months, years pass, you feel, in real-time. When I met director Shlomi Elkabetz at the Regency Hotel lobby last week, I had to say, this was the most infuriating movie I ever liked; he took my review as a compliment. The saving grace of this compelling movie about stasis is that Viviane is played by his sister, the actress Ronit Elkabetz, so memorable from the movies Late Marriage and The Band's Visit; you cannot take your eyes off her face, even as it registers stages of frustration and humiliation as the process drags on and on, and various colorful and unreliable witnesses come forward to testify on behalf of wife and husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian). He is, after all, a decent man who provides: "A nice man. A good catch."

This marriage was inspired by their parents'. The story, the last of a trilogy (after To Take a Wife and 7 Days), is an imaginative rendering of what might have happened if their mother had taken their father to court for a "gett." That never happened, but they are certain he would never have let her go. Happy to work together, these talented siblings -- of Moroccan origin -- split their time between Israel and France. Now audiences worldwide are lining up to see their film

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