A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.
Sebastian Lelio is already responsible for one of the finest films of 2018 in ‘A Fantastic Woman’, the Chilean winner of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at this year’s Oscars about a transgender woman coping with the loss of her partner, and ‘Disobedience’ is another superb film. This film takes place in North London and tells the story of a woman who, after many years away, returns to the strict Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up to attend her father’s funeral. It shares many similarities with ‘A Fantastic Woman’ with both films focusing on a central character who is ostracised by people as a result of who they are, and like that film, Lelio’s approach is nuanced and complex in tackling a difficult issue.
Rachel Weisz is the ostensible lead as Ronit Krushka, a photographer who lives and works in New York, with the central trio filled out by her childhood friends Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams). Much has changed since Ronit was last in North London, including Dovid and Esti now being married, and it’s clear that this has come as a big surprise to Ronit, with further details of the background to this revealed over time. The romantic triangle that plays out is sensitively handled and the film expertly explores the conflict between the lives we choose to lead, whether it be the one chosen for us or one we choose ourselves. This central tension is at the heart of the relationship between these childhood friends and I thought it was wonderfully handled by the filmmakers and the three performers. Weisz and McAdams will rightly get a lot of praise but I thought Alessandro Nivola was particularly terrific as a man grappling with his faith and the chaos that Ronit’s return has caused in his life.
‘Disobedience’ is a gripping film about three childhood friends who have found the path to happiness hindered by their upbringing and the confines of their society, and the wonderfully acted performances bring this well written drama superbly to life.
Directed By: Sebastian Lelio
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola