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TIFF 2017 Review: “Disobedience” (2017) ★★★★★


It was Sebastian Lelio’s riveting Gloria that introduced me to the world of this wonderfully talented filmmaker. His new feature film La Mujera Fantastica with Daniela Vega highlighted what exactly a filmmaker expects from his storytelling ability. However, when you make a Spanish-language film, that’s one thing, but in English it may give a different result. Having Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams together in one film, especially playing each other’s love interest is not an easy pill to swallow. And can be a challenging task for any filmmaker to handle. However, Sebastian Lelio has discovered something new in both actresses we knew nothing about, and the pill that I was talking about was absolutely nothing, and Disobedience is proof to that.

A rabbi delivers a heartfelt speech. He talks about disobedience and about the chance to be free. Then he collapses later in the day. This man is Ronit’s (Weisz) father, who did not see his daughter for a long time. Having a luxury life in New York, the woman returns to her London-base house to pay respect to her father whom she still loved. Also thinking that now she may be able to sell her old house, she learns that the house is owned by Dovid who is married now to her childhood friend, Esti.

Dovid became a son Ronit’s father never had. Set in a strict Jewish neighborhood, the man seems happily married to Esti, whose duty is more like playing the role of a wife, rather than a devoted wife. It’s the love scene between Esti and David which reveals the nature of their relationship, where passion was not existent. With Ronit’s appearance everything changes. Dovid, like everyone in the community rejects Ronit and her lifestyle. They all well aware of Esti’s past as well, but were hoping that her sexual preferences that does not fit into Jewish ideology can be cured after her marriage. That, of course, was proven wrong though.

There is an interesting chemistry going on between the two women. Esti gives up the idea to resist Ronit’s charm immediately. Ronit is willing to accept that openness and the love Esti can give her. Through their conversations it was revealed that both women were in love with each other, and since their separation, they never got close to any other women. Through those nuances and revelation, the passion that sparks between them and Dovid’s presence in it becomes a war in a culture where each and everyone tries to fight for what they believe in: that belief is love, freedom, and disobedience for anything that rejects pure love in any shape and form.

Disobedience, based on the acclaimed novel by Naomi Alderman, is where love and faith is the central topic. Carefully directed by Lelio, this film takes the viewer into the world of dramatic discussion where at least one open mind can save the day. Weisz and McAdams were well casted to show that there is nothing wrong with anything they do on the screen, as soon as the line they cross was in the name of craft and the characters they should have portrayed convincingly. So they did, surprisingly, with subtle approach and beautiful performances many will talk about afterwards.

In conclusion, Lelio’s film can spark many questions about why lesbian characters were portrayed by straight actors. But you see, before getting into such discussion we all need to remember one thing – there is no such requirement written anywhere where an astronaut must be portrayed by an astronaut, or doctor by real life doctor. Saying that, if such a thing would exist, there would be no need of actors at all. As for Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, I was pleasantly surprised by their willingness to take such a risk and embark themselves into the dangerous world of criticism, I am sure, someone without an open mind would have never done that. Instead, this is an enjoyable movie that will make you raise more questions and realize that the search of identity is a problem every community has without exception.…

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