Jose here. In Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Israeli goddess Ronit Elkabetz returns to play a part she’s lived with for more than a decade. In 2004, Ronit and her brother Shlomi teamed up as writers and co-directors of a film trilogy that would concentrate on the experiences of a woman as seen through the roles society imposed on her. In the first installment, To Take a Wife, Viviane must deal with being trapped in a loveless marriage to her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian), in 7 Days, Viviane must sit Shiva and come to terms with the fact that she is obligated to mourn despite not feeling pain. In Gett, which opened this weekend on the heels of its Golden Globe Foreign Film nomination (Oscar passed it by), Viviane is trying to gain her freedom from Elisha, but finds that practically impossible given that her husband hasn’t committed any “sins” against her; her request is deemed invalid by the strict rabbinical court.
In the years since her breakthrough in Late Marriage (2001), also an Israeli Oscar submission, and the first Viviane installment, Ronit has become the face of Israeli cinema having delivered brilliant performances in films like The Band’s Visit and Or. Gett also reveals her growth behind the camera with a much more sophisticated directorial technique, as she and Shlomi tell the story from a very subjective point of view. With their use of the camera and precise shots, they allow Viviane to have the freedom of thought society continues to deny her. A perfectly cast ensemble makes the film a worthy spiritual companion to A Separation and Zodiac, in a way, as they all explore the frustration that comes along with endless, inefficient bureaucratic processes.
During their recent visit to New York City, I talked to Ronit and Shlomi about their collaborations, their unique use of cinematic language and how Gett has rightfully become a sociopolitical sensation in Israel.