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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Greetings again from the darkness. Personal views on Politics and Religion are purposefully avoided in my film reviews as I prefer to view the work from the perspective of art and storytelling. Sometimes, however, a film exposes such an injustice that stifling one's opinions is just not practical. Such is the case with this latest from the brother-sister co-directing and co-writing team of Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz.
This is the final piece to the creative siblings' trilogy on Israeli marriage that began with To Take a Wife (2004), and was followed by 7 Days (2008). That's right, the two characters of husband Elisha (Simon Ebkarian) and wife Viviane (played by director Ronit Elkabetz who was also in the excellent 2007 film The Band's Visit) have been followed through the stages of marriage, separation, and now divorce court. Only their divorce court is not what most of the world thinks of when we hear that term. In Israel, divorce is not a civil matter, but rather falls under Jewish law and the proceedings are overseen by a triumvirate of rabbinical judges. If that's not difficult enough to stomach it's the husband who holds ALL the power. The husband must agree to grant his wife the divorce. Without his permission, the judges can do nothing and the wife is bound to the marriage.
With the story unfolding almost exclusively in the bleak courtroom, Viviane trudges through delays, no-shows, desperate negotiations, and other time-wasters; only occasionally succumbing to an outburst, rather than her usual quiet dignity. Elisha maintains a seemingly proud and determined look when he does show for hearings, only periodically shooting a look of disgust at his wife. His confidence stems from the power in knowing that grounds for divorce do not include irreconcilable differences. The camera work puts us right in the courtroom and we soon recognize Elisha's mannerisms as not just passive-aggressive, but also manipulative and misguided. He is not an awful man, but this is an awful marriage.
Long a fan of courtroom dramas, I was mesmerized by the dumbfounding process as well as the stellar performances, excellent script and POV camera work. Ms Elkabetz is terrific as Viviane, and her work is complimented by Mr Ebkarian as her husband, Sasson Gabay as his brother and advocate, and Menashe Noy as her advocate and admirer. The film is a strange blend of hypnotic and infuriating and heart-breaking. It's uncomfortable to watch, but one we can't turn away from especially as Viviane shouts "You don't see me!" to the judges.
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