This is an Israeli film with subtitles.
Viviane Amsalem (Ronit Elkabetz) has lived apart from her husband for a couple of years, and she now wants to get a divorce so she can move on with her life. Living with her sister, she still sees her children daily and cooks meals for them. Unfortunately, her husband, Elisha (Simon Abkarian), refuses to grant her a Gett (Jewish divorce). Elisha is an aloof, self-righteous, narcissistic, domineering & controlling, impossible-to-please, and punishing man, but he is well-respected in the community, so he holds all the high cards. Why Elisha refuses to let Viviane go is gradually revealed, but still remains partly a mystery, even at the film’s conclusion.
The movie is entirely about the divorce trial, which lasted, with many stops and starts, for about 5 years. The movie exposes how powerless religious women are in Israel, at least with respect to this situation. The judges are all male. The grounds for divorce must be extremely compelling. Living with a husband who hates your guts, who is continually emotionally abusive (refuses to eat her food or take her anywhere), a total lack of any emotional or sexual intimacy, etc. holds absolutely no weight. If your husband doesn’t beat you or cheat, and he puts food on the table, it’s next to impossible to escape.
The movie scenes are only of the trial, with the spouses, their attorneys, a few witnesses, and the judges alternatively having their say. The acting is excellent, especially Ronit Elkabetz, who co-directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Shlomi Elkabetz. There are some great scenes but some others don’t add much.
This film has won numerous awards. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was as good as most of the critics did. Perhaps I didn’t quite “Gett” it!