To Take a Wife

1 hour and 43 Minutes and 16 seconds , 2004
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Directed by: Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz
Cast: Ronit Elkabetz, Simon Abkarian, Gilbert Melki, Sulika Sabag, Dalia Beger
Siblings, Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s debut film which kicks off the trilogy that also includes 7 Days (2008) and Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014), introduces viewers to a Middle-Eastern Israeli family in the late 1970s. On a Tuesday night, the extended Ohayon tribe gathers with the aim of making peace between Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) and Eliahu (Simone Abkarian). After an ongoing period of nonstop fighting, Viviane’s seven siblings show up in the hopes of mediating between the sparring spouses; two people whose only common ground, aside from the four children they share, is their cultural heritage. What will ultimately emerge triumphant in this otherwise hopeless battle that’s been nothing but a living hell for all those involved? Will it be tradition? Love? Fears? Will it be one’s heritage or a cultural seemingly unravelling in the face of progress, but which ultimately may prove to be the most resilient of all? The story unfolds over the course of three days in the runup to the holy Sabbath. Whilst the family patriarch, a traditional, yarmulke-wearing man violently forces his eldest to attend synagogue services, Viviane yearns to get ahead in life, take up driving, go out to a restaurant or the cinema, and go away for the weekend with the whole family. The tug of war between the love of family vs. the love of God, and tradition vs. progress will consume this family from within – that is, until the glorious conclusion. The film was part of the Venice Film Festival’s Critics Week, where it earned both Critic’s Choice and Audience Awards. The late Ronit Elkabetz is a veritable powerhouse as the film’s lead; a role that won her the Best Actress Award at the 2004 Jerusalem Film Festival.

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