So much repressed love! Is that even a thing?
New York photographer Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) has had a bit of a rough life so far and it’s about to get even rougher when she learns of her estranged father’s death. So she picks up all of her things and flies to London where she’s welcomed back into the same Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her decades earlier. But why? Better yet, what does Ronit have against this community so much that it has forced her to start her own life, somewhere else in the world? Well, turns out that it may have something to do with her long lost friend, Esti (Rachel McAdams), who is also married to one of Ronit’s closest friends growing up, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola).
Disobedience is a rather moving and sometimes all-too sad movie about repressed love, feelings, and emotions that anyone can find easy to relate to. Even if all of the Orthodox Jewish stuff doesn’t quite connect, there’s still that inherent feeling of sadness, loneliness, and emotion that comes with loving someone, yet, not knowing quite how to make that person feel said love or even know about it. Of course, when it comes to these kinds of feelings, unfortunately, the Orthodox Jewish community is known for a whole lot of that, but hey, this is neither the place, nor the movie for that kind of stuff!
In fact, what surprised me the most about Disobedience was how even when it comes very close to calling out the Orthodox Jewish community for all the wrongdoings it’s causing on families and most of all, women, it also shows us that these small communities aren’t the evil villains they’re made-out to be. Disobedience is, at its heart, and as cheesy as this may come-off, a movie about family and how that feeling of having one around you, no matter how small, tall, close-knit, or not, can still protect you from some of the evils in the world. This community we see here is, warts and all, a rather close-knit, loving and somewhat supporting band of friends and family that may not always agree with the outside world, but don’t allow for that to get in the way of their love and support for one another.
But like I said, this is also a love story and a rather sweet one at that.
Unfortunately, for me at least, co-writer/director Sebastián Lelio’s take on the material is a little too muted to really bring you in to feel the raw heart and emotion. There’s of course the sex-scene between the two leads that’s been much talked-about and with good reason; it’s passionate, sweet, a little sexy, and really messy. But then again, that’s how love really is – out-of-control and never really allowing you to feel or understand just where you’re at, or where you’re going next. For some reason, it’s a feeling that Disobedience never quite captures, if only because it’s so content with keeping things small and quiet, even when you sometimes wish something loud would just snap, if only to make the characters jump a bit.
But the performances are so good here that, honestly, it’s hard to fault them for the sometimes-muted feeling throughout. Weisz can practically play this role of a tortured, incredibly frustrated soul in her sleep and gives Ronit a true pulse throughout; McAdams is a tender and honest soul as Esti, even if her British-accent can’t help but feel like too much of a put-on; and Alessando Nivola, in perhaps the best performance of the three, plays a character we expect to hate from the very beginning, yet, start to slowly understand, love, and sympathize for.
His Dovid is a sad and, as expected, repressed guy who’s just trying to do right by all of those around him – his friends, his family, his rabbi, his community, everyone. He constantly finds himself up against the wall and against his morals, questioning just what he’s doing, what he’s feeling, and whether any of this is right for him. It’s probably what everyone feels at one point in their lives, or probably all of the time and it’s easy to feel more for this man, even when he’s not always in the spotlight.
Just goes to show you: Don’t judge a book by the cover!
Consensus: Sweet, honest, and well-acted, Disobedience remains an emotionally rewarding film about community, forbidden love, and religion, even if it’s a tad too languid for its own good.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Bleecker Street Media