The Cannes Diaries: Part 2
Do read The Cannes Diaries: Part 1 if you haven’t already. This will make a lot more sense after you do so…
On Day Three of the festival, I got into a screening of Gett, the Trial of Viviane Amsalem by the skin of my teeth, that’s how late I was. But running for the film, which is part of the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, proved full of reward. Gett (the name of the document of divorce in Israel) by brother and sister filmmakers Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, is a beautifully shot, stunningly acted oeuvre, which sneaks in a daring commentary on Israeli society and Orthodox deviations when it comes to women’s rights. While the Torah could be a teaching tool full of tolerance and wisdom, the Rabbinic laws, as in most fundamentalist variations on religions, have deviated from the books’ original, well balanced views. So Viviane (played with seductive dignity and courage by Ronit Elkabetz), a character introduced along with husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian, who grows from unlikable to detestable in a stunning crescendo of talent) in previous films by the Elkabetz, is subjected to a court made up of three rabbinical judges. These three men see her claims of incompatibility as unfounded, and clearly, but not forthrightly, insufficient grounds for a divorce. For five years, lived along with the audience, Viviane is subjected to her husband’s passive aggressive behavior, while the court and witnesses discredit her and her decision by chipping away at her being. Never too dramatically of course, but her freedom, her independence as a strong woman is attacked in ways that made me squirm in my seat.
Walking up the stairs of the Theatre Croisette inside the JW Marriott after the screening, I felt as if I was thankfully coming up for air, after having been submersed in feelings and beautifully cinematic anguish for nearly two hours.