Cinema Review: Disobedience

Posted 5 months ago in Cinema Reviews

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Director: Sebastián Lelio

Talent: Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Alesandro Nivola

Released: 30 November

Not quite as grand or as sweeping as his very recent release A Fantastic Woman, Lelio hasn’t wasted much time following up with this adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s 2006 debut novel of the same name.

Controversial at the time, the book has made a faithful transference with Weisz playing the role of the lesbian daughter, Ronit, returning for her rabbi father’s funeral in London. Her emergence after many years away rekindles the fire between herself and her ex-lover Esti played by McAdams. Complications arise however, not simply because this is a strict Orthodox Jewish community but because the successor to Ronit’s father, her cousin Dovid (Nivola), is married to Esti.

The template may be familiar; the black sheep returns to her hometown only for trouble to arise, but the story is far from straightforward. It’s an engrossing look at a rarely depicted society in cinema, and it’s fascinating.

There’s some gripping work from all three of the principle roles but it’s Esti’s agonising struggle that really engages. McAdams is fantastic as the woman painfully conflicted about how to live her life. Her struggle fills the screen with sorrow or empathy from scene to scene.

There are lovely moments between Ronit and Esti, and some great writing, but for the most part Disobedience lumbers along quite heavily, with its bleak lives and dull grey backdrops. Overly long, it takes too much time to sift through the rubble of its repressed personalities to make its uneven conclusion.

Words: Shane O’Reilly


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