Disobedience

Directed by Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio who just who won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2017’s A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience is an emotionally evocative drama exploring the complex intersectionality of love and religion and is anchored by terrific acting performances. The plot follows the return of an ostracized photographer living in New York named Ronit, played by the always brilliant Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz, to her strict Orthodox Jewish community in London after the death of her father who was the beloved rabbi and leader. Neither really wanting to be there or being welcomed back by the close-knit religiously conservative community, she must confront the very reasons she was forced to leave the group and grapple with the repercussions. She is shocked to learn that one of her former best friends Dovid, played by Alessandro Nivola in a standout performance, who is the heir apparent to her father, is married to Esti, played by Oscar-nominated actress Rachel McAdams. It is later revealed that Ronit and Esti were engaged in a sexually intimate relationship that was discovered and resulted in Ronit’s banishment. Involved in such an obviously grevious sinful act as homosexuality among the Orthodox, the now liberalized Ronit is never completely recognized by the community and is feared because of her tainted reputation. The somber and repressed Esti tries to hide her affection for Ronit, but, ultimately, she cannot deny her desires and acts out on her sexuality with Ronit despite the high costs, including affecting her husband and his status as the possible lead rabbi. The filmmaker does a remarkable job of showing what life must be like living in an insular Orthodox Jewish or any other conservative religious group and how the traditional rules and norms impact the individual. It vividly portrays the anguish and suffering of the two lead female characters who must deal with their frowned-upon love for one another. Overall, I found it to be a truly exceptional film with top-notch acting performances that brought to life the struggles of living in a extremely conservative community that has heartbreaking results for those involved in forbidden love.

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