A review of the film “Disobedience”

Like the earlier film “Apostasy”, “Disobedience” is a story of the restrictions and repression in an ultra-religious community in England told largely through the viewpoint of female protagonsists. Whereas “Apostasy” looked at members of Jehovah’s Witnesses living in Manchster, this film is set in an Orthodox Jewish community in north London.

It is an adaptation of the novel by Naomi Alderman which, while not biographical, was shaped by her upbringing in such a location. She has said: “I went into the novel religious and by the end I wasn’t. I wrote myself out of it”.

“Disobedience” is a fraught love triangle between Ronit (Rachel Weisz), who has left the faith and the community in spite of her father being the religious group’s rabbi, Esti (Rachel McAdams) who once had a relationship with Ronit but has now settled for marriage with a man set to take over as rabbi, and Ronit’s friend and Esti’s husband Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). These three leads give fine, nuanced performances and the outcome is not obvious.

The lesbianism scenes are not up there with “Blue Is The Warmest Colour” for length and explictness, but Chilean director and co-writer Sebastián Lelio presents images of convincing passion in a sensitive manner.


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