Date de sortie: 25.6.2014.
Sony 4K digital projection, avec sous-titres français, at Cinéma Studio 28 (Paris 18), 21 July 2014
"En Israël, Elisha refuse à sa femme Viviane le divorce (guett) qu'elle demande depuis plus de trois ans. Dans ce pays, seuls les rabbins peuvent prononcer ou dissoudre un mariage. Au final, le mari est au-dessus des juges. Viviane montre une grande détermination afin de lutter pour sa liberté."
For a moment I was thinking about Asghar Farhadi's masterpiece A Separation / Jodaeiye Nader az Simin because of the divorce trial impasse situation including two apparently reasonable grown-ups.
But Le Procès de Viviane Amsalem - the top-ranking film on the list of the city journal Pariscope - is completely original. Its theme reportedly grows from the same world of inspiration as two previous films of the brother and sister team Shlomi Elkabetz and Ronit Elkabetz.
They are Israeli film-makers - directors and screenwriters - from a family of Moroccan background. Ronit Elkabetz is also an actress, carrying the leading role of Viviane Amsalem here. I have seen no Elkabetz films before but am now looking forward to see the first and second films of their trilogy, all reportedly based on the fate of their own mother.
According to the rabbis marriage is holy. Elisha and Viviane agree that they are not made for each other and cannot be happy together. But in this Elisha sees God's punishment which must be obeyed.
From this paradoxal situation the Elkabetzes develop a thrilling and touching story with various broad implications: - Solomon's judgement - the teachings of Rambam / Maimonides - religious orthodoxy in the modern world - "Russian immigration has killed us".
This film is stark, concentrated, focused, and reduced to the trial only. It is also very intense and suspenseful. The visual syntax is simple and powerful with full shots and medium shots, many close-ups and also extreme close-ups.
No problem with digital in a story shot entirely in interiors and based largely on close-ups. The visual quality of the presentation was excellent.