When I saw the preview for Disobedience a few months ago, I knew right away I needed to see it. The movie is based on the book by Naomi Alderman (same title), which Rachel Weisz optioned for film. Weisz is not only one of the stars on screen, but also served as a producer.
If you're not familiar, Disobedience tells the story of a woman, Ronit, who returns home upon learning of her father's death. Ronit was born into an Orthodox Jewish community in London and left after high school, stifled by the rules of her religion. She lives and works in New York, far away from the confines of her childhood experience.
Weisz plays Ronit and interestingly, she grew up not far from this exact community in London. In an interview with CBS News, she shares, "They're a very private community, so I never spoke to them, and they wouldn't have been interested in speaking to me. I think there's a great mystery around their world."
When Ronit returns home, most members of the community are offended by her presence. It's her life-long friend Dovid who takes her in to mourn. Since Ronit fled, Dovid married a woman they grew up with, Esti, who is played by Rachel McAdams.
If you're used to McAdams is a teen movie or romantic comedy, this is a serious departure. In their review, Variety commented, "Ronit may be the film’s primary protagonist, but Esti is its heart, and McAdams crafts a character unlike any we’ve yet seen from her. At times, the actress almost seems to be consciously struggling to stifle the sort of effortless magnetism she usually exudes, but so too is her character; it isn’t until Esti boldly takes a drag off of Ronit’s cigarette midway through the film that we see her fully exhale."
Mid-way through the movie, we learn that Ronit and Esti were in love as young girls. Ronit's father, the revered senior rabbi in the synagogue, walked in on them once, serving as the catalyst for Ronit's burning desire to flee. When the women are reunited in London, their magnetism returns.
Director Sebastian Lelio (who just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with A Fantastic Woman) choreographed a sex scene that I can only describe as primal. In a Q&A with Entertainment Weekly, Weisz revealed, "I think Sebastian would say it’s the center of the movie, the heart of the movie, the deep inside of the movie. It was important to him. We had a whole day to shoot it. It was full of meaning, it wasn’t just random."
Ronit and Esti's connection is palpable whenever they're in the same room. This movie is a story about two people who aren't able to be their true selves as a result of the norms and expectations of their community. While in this particular story the rules are dictated by Orthodox Judaism, the film is relatable for anyone who has ever felt outcast or misunderstood by the people they love the most.
This is not an uplifting movie, but it is absolutely worth seeing. I though Rachel McAdams' performance was beautiful, as was Alessandro Nivola's, who plays her husband.
Did you see the movie? If yes, I'd love to hear your thoughts.