Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem": the film is like a stage play; why marriage is "monopolistic", in Israel and a lot of places

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem”, directed by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, seems more like a stage play than a movie.  It takes indoors, in the sparse furnishings of a rabbinical court.  We see nothing of the spectacle of the Holy Lands or of the international political and military struggle.
In Israel, apparently there is no civil divorce.  The husband has all the trumps.  Here, the wife Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) has applied for divorce from Elisha (Simon Abkarian), after giving him and raising four children.  But the civil procedures run for over five years, as the film keeps confronting us with “three months later”, etc.  The court keeps on engaging in double talk, which doesn’t seem funny to me.
The reason seems to be, she just isn’t “interested” in him anymore.  That’s not a good enough reason, if he hasn’t cheated or abused her.  She doesn’t want to live with him.  At the end, she pleads for her freedom.

The husband will give her the “freedom”, except for one critical thing: she can never have intercourse with another man.  She can never marry anyone else.
The idea that one needs to monopolize someone seems very alien to me.  I’ve never experienced jealousy, or the idea “If I can’t have you no one else can”.  But it is that very idea that seems to make monogamous marriage work for a lot of people.  I’m not competitive enough as a male to even expect that.
At one point, the defense attorney is asked if he has a wife and family, and he doesn’t.  The next question is, why not.  Then a sister of Viviane is asked a similar thing. The Biblical imperative "Be fruitful and multiply" gets quoted. 
The official site is here
I saw the film at the Cinema Arts in Fairfax Va last night  I was alone in the audience!

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