Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

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Directed by – Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz

One of the most compelling pieces of drama I have ever seen. By calling it the best court room drama ever, would mean to diminish its excellency in the genre. We have seen 12 angry men but there were 12 angry men. Here, the entire film is set inside a courtroom with two benches and 3 judges.

The film gives unparalleled insight into the plight of women in Israel. A woman files for divorce from her husband wanting to get out of a thirty year old marriage on grounds of incompatibility. The husband, time and again refuses to show up, probably because he can. Since according to their judiciary system, a man can only grant divorce to a woman, there is nothing even the judges can do to force him. Viviane, patiently, months after months waits for an ultimatum by the court because she has lost all hope from her husband to grant her freedom.

You could see the tension building. The ridiculous nature of the society we all are a part of, puts a mirror up your face and forces you to see it. At one point, Viviane loses it. For which she was also dismissed from the court. But she comes back, because anger cannot buy happiness.

She says, ‘Its easy to blame the one who yells. The one who whispers venom is innocent.’

When I watch films like these, I don’t think about filmmaking. I am so intensely gripped by the drama created by the filmmaker that it comes alive.

That my friend is called masterpiece.

Quite speechless hereafter.

 

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Tell no one (2006)

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Directed by – Guillaume Canet

Ne le dis à personne is based on a book of the same name by infamous American author, Harlan Coben.

I loved the way it started. Like most french films, its soul lies in its pacing. Slow and curious at first, then suddenly makes us run along with it. The film is about a middle aged man, Alexandre Beck whose beloved wife became a victim to a serial killer and 8 years later, the tragedy comes back on his doorstep. Now there might be a lead to a story that only seemed unfinished. With Alexandre’s tumultuous journey in search of the real truth and a hidden plot that seems to be getting more and more complicated – the film ends with a bang. I love such films.

What I enjoyed the most were the intricate and delicate detailing of the characters. Of course, they were intentional and contributed not quite subtly in the story – but the fact that they were there, makes it worth the appraising. Its not just a brilliant plot – its the characters and how well they are portrayed to make your story believable that makes a film what it is. I believed in ‘Tell no one’ and at the same time not so much, probably because I could have a figured a better way out in the plot I guess. But I definitely and thoroughly enjoyed watching it!

Philomena (2013)

 The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time ~ T.S Eliot

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Directed by – Stephen Frears

The biopic is based on the real life story of an old nun accounted by journalist Martin Sixsmith in his book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’. 

At a high profile party, Jane, a waitress meets Martin – a journalist who has just lost his high profile job as the labour government’s advisor. She tells him about this woman, Philomena Lee – a nun in search of her son, who was taken away 50 years ago by the Catholic church. But Martin is uninterested and almost without a bother says that he can’t cover the story. She asks him why, to which he very matter – of – flatly, replies –

“Because human interest stories are about weak minded, vulnerable, ignorant people. So those newspapers are read by vulnerable, weak minded, ignorant people.”

Eventually, the film sets out to be the journey of Martin and Philomena – a human interest story for the journalist trying to gain foothold in the industry again and a long awaited quest for the old nun. Within the plot, deep buried human emotions and beliefs through Philomena are explored, while Martin’s attitude is a symbolic representation of perhaps practicality or atheism. The film is a mixture of understanding simplicity and ambitions, anger and forgiveness.

Very interestingly, it also manages to subtly point out political dispositions of the republican party in USA as well as religious heresy that is questioned time and again. In Ireland, there are nuns who were condemned by the church for carrying children and are till date paying the price of penance.

What an eye-opener. Loved it.

In a better world (2010)

Sometimes it feels like there is a veil between you and death,
but that veil disappears when you lose someone you loved
or someone who was close to you,
and you see death clearly, for a second,
but later the veil returns, and you carry on living.
Then things will be alright again.

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Directed by – Susanne Bier
Written by – Anders Thomas Jensen

There are some films which are meant to make a difference. Such films seep into your bones and stir every part of you with such overwhelming mixed emotions.

On one side you see a swedish man Anton, a doctor trying to save as many lives as possible in Sudan. On the other side, back home – his innocent good hearted 12 yr old son, Elias befriends a strangely quiet boy in school, Christian who saves him from being bullied. While Anton has to deal with big bullies of the world who cut open pregnant women’s bellies just because they can, he also is trying to imbibe in his son the meaning to let go of bitter feelings. Because it does good to nobody.

Their lives intertwine in ways, one action leading to another – human emotions expressed so sublimely and with so much caution..

Its beautiful. Too powerful.

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)

 You scared?
All the time

Au Revoir Les Enfants

Written and Directed by – Louis Malle

During World War II, when Germany had occupied France (1942-44) – this is the story of a boy Julien Quentin in a Carmelite boarding school. He becomes friends with a new schoolmate Jean Bonnet, with a shy demeanour and a secretive history. The backbone of the narrative is their growing friendship while exploring the underlying tension in France.

There are a lot of political references in the film which I did not completely comprehend. But, there was this one instance in the film where all the students had gathered to watch a Charlie Chaplin film and it was in that one scene that everybody looked united – in joy. It made a powerful statement in itself. There are many such moments though, some through interesting characters like the drunkard cook or petty assistant or Julien’s elder brother wanting to join the resistance movement or the fat boy who loves to bully but hardly smiles.

Its that sort of a film that works deftly along its narrative with subtle references of the essence of the plot. It eventually culminates in a silent fear that you must have had all along the way. What is more fascinating about this film is that its autobiographical and has been treated as such, from Julien’s perspective i.e. Mr. Louis Malle’s real life experiences.

A must watch for all film buffs out there.

A royal affair (2012)

I think some people are so sealed inside their fate
that they hide deep within their mind.

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Directed by – Nikolaj Arcel

Mark Twain said, History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Well that I think will sum up this beautiful piece of work for us. A royal affair is based on a book Prinsesse af blodet by Bodil Steensen-Leth.

In the 18th century, a princess from England, Caroline married a mentally ill King, Christian VII of Denmark. It was only to realise that Denmark was not as liberal and open to ideas as she thought it would  be. Inevitably, the couple grows apart in an unhappy marriage destined for forever. Enters,  Johann Friedrich Struensee. A royal physician who saves the king from a small pox epidemic and becomes respected in the state. But in other revelations, we learn that he is a member of the Enlightenment group – who aim to reform the state with liberal and fair – proved ideas.

Soon his influence on the king becomes a disturbing factor for the statesmen ruling for years and the affair between queen Caroline and Johann becomes an ambush to end it for all.

Exciting right? Hell yea it is. You don’t wanna not watch it.

 

Sex and lucia (2001)

“You have to choose. Wild sex with a stranger, or wild sex with someone who’s crazy about you, and who you love? Go ahead. Be frank.”

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Directed by – Julio Medem

Julio Medem likes to play with the minds of his audience and well, he is damn good at it. The film starts with Lucia getting a phone call leading her to believe that her lover, Lorenzo is killed in an accident. Soon, the story if interweaved with Elena, who a long time back had had casual sex with Lorenzo in the ocean.

Sex and Lucia is about Lorenzo, a writer whose depression we learn about in the discontinued narrative, it is about Lucia who is his passionate lover trying to understand the reasons of his misery and it is about Elena, whose life has been struck with tragedy. And all of this comes together magically in the film.

The  subtle confusions are a part of the plot and the effect. The characters on the other hand have actually been freed from the dubiety of the plot and are as clear and strong as the security of an artist’s brush while drawing his imagination.

Its way too beautiful a film.