After a lukewarm marriage of over twenty years, a woman appeals to her husband's compassion to obtain the desirable divorce document in front of a court, which proves to be more challenging than she would expect.
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In Israel there is neither civil marriage nor civil divorce. Only rabbis can legitimize a marriage or its dissolution. But this dissolution is only possible with full consent from the husband, who in the end has more power than the judges. Viviane Amsalem has been applying for divorce for three years. But her husband Elisha will not agree. His cold intransigence, Viviane's determination to fight for her freedom, and the ambiguous role of the judges shape a procedure in which tragedy vies with absurdity, and everything is brought out for judgment, apart from the initial request.Written by
Official submission of Israel to the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards 2015. See more »
Vivian wears only one big ring on her forth finger of her left hand throughout most of the movie. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Vivian is shown sitting at the bench in the "court" and there is also a second ring on her second finger. See more »
Why are you making me run around in circles? Why, Your Honor? Why? Why have I come in and out for years now and nothing's changed? Why? You can't force him to divorce nor to appear, and you can't this or that, and what about me? When will you see me? When I'm too exhausted to stand before you? When? If it were up to you, it could go on for 10 years. I could drop dead in front of you and all you'd see was him! But nobody is above the law. There's a God and there's justice and He'll judge you as ...
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The Israeli system of divorce is out of whack, a lot of Israeli women are "anchored" (as the Hebrew language puts it) in marriages they don't want, and a lot of people are angry, so as a male Israeli I'm pleased that this divorce drama doesn't turn the husband into a sneering villain to symbolize the balefulness of the system. Instead the husband is a woebegone sort of Bartleby who is emotionally unable to say "yes" to a divorce and he seems very alone. A parade of witnesses are played flamboyantly by top Israeli character actors, and the husband's isolation is emphasized by the fact that the actor playing him is a foreigner little known in Israel. (In fact, and unrealistically, the dialogue tends to lapse into French and after an initial protest the judges tend to tolerate the departure.) So while the movie certainly presents the woman as the aggrieved party-- she was married too young, and to a man whose expectations of religious observance she couldn't bring herself to meet-- the balance is not against an evil or deeply vindictive husband but against a bruised and defensive one, and it works well.
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