Anne Marie here with a followup to David's review on Israel's Oscar submission. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem opens with a lawyer staring at his client sitting just offscreen. The lawyer turns to the judges and begins to plead his client's case: she is incompatible with her husband and wants a divorce.
The scene moves between the three judges, the lawyer, and the woman's husband as they argue this woman's fate, but the camera avoids Viviane as strangers argue over her. When at last the camera cuts to Viviane, (writer/co-director Ronit Elkabetz channeling AFI Fest honoree Sophia Loren's intensity) she seeths in her chair, muted by convention and law. She glances quickly at the camera, and her brief eye contact burns with unvoiced frustration. Considering that her divorce will take almost half a decade to achieve, the frustration will only get more bitter and volcatnic.
As David pointed out, Ronit and her brother/co-director Shlomi have made a social justice film about the absurdities of Israel's archaic, religion-based family law. However, Gett also becomes a study on the harder-to-read nuances of a relationship - Are Viviane and her husband incompaible or abusive? Is he controlling or too lenient? The deceptively simple conceit of trapping the action in the stark courtroom visually emphasizes Viviane's frustration, and allows the motives of everyone who speaks - from Vivianne's hilarious family to her sadly submissive neighbor to her husband and herself. Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz have created a film that works on every level as social commentary, and absurdist comedy, and character study.
Second Take Grade: A-
Oscar Chances: Though it is Israel's official submission, chances are low. The first two films in Elkabetz's trilogy, To Take A Wife (2004) and 7 Days (2008), were both overlooked by the Academy. At AFI Fest, Gett is currently being overshadowed by star-studded films like Two Days, One Night and buzz -generators Timbuktu and The Tribe. Though audiences that see it are speaking highly of it, Gett's may not have the momentum to land a nomination.