Saturday, 11 October 2014

LFF REVIEW - GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM (RONIT ELKABETZ AND SHLOMI ELKABETZ)


Subjectivity becomes universality in Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz's Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem, as it does in all of cinema's most perceptive works. The camera's set gaze acts as our own, situated in the dank Rabbinical courtroom where Viviane Amsalem faces sexism and setbacks in her struggle to achieve gett, Jewish divorce. And Viviane senses our presence, her glare alternately directed toward us, her egregiously stubborn husband, and the space before her eyes, as though to appeal to the ether for mercy, since she is granted so little of it in the individuals whose judgement is determining her fate. The film is a litany of conflict and cruelty, their consequences continually ignored until they find expression in Viviane's acts of defiance, as brutal as any of the court's rulings yet, in actuality, far less influential. Yet here is where Gett shifts its focus and thus its purpose, solidifying its message and thereby translating reality (or realism) into passionate plea. The Elkabetzes are willing to indulge in catharsis for the sake of affecting change, and their shot and editing choices, perfectly considered, betray their keen perception for communicating potent issues in the most direct manner available. Indeed, Gett is brimful of intellectual content, not in spite of its technical style but due to it. The Elkabetzes rigorous mise-en-scene emphasises specific qualities in each of the elements they employ - the three judges, for example, embodying severity, obstinateness and ignorance respectively - and their handling of the physical attributes to these figures within these frames renders the actors almost like dancers, interacting with their environment. It's in those interactions that those specific qualities come to life, the dialogues that the screenplay constructs between disparate entities within the film, and thus that their apparent subjectivity becomes universality.