In Theatres: 
May 04, 2018
Running Time: 
114 minutes

Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience shares many similarities with his previous film, the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, in that it centers around the death of a loved one and coming to terms with your own identity. Or I guess I should say others coming to terms with the identity of the main character because Lelio’s characters are fiercely confident in who they are. It’s in the convincing of everyone else where the conflict of his films lie. Disobedience is no different.


Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) grew up in the shadow of her father, a well-respected rabbi in a very strict Orthodox Jewish community. After learning that she was attracted to her childhood friend, Esti (Rachel McAdams), Ronit decides to leave her family and faith and move to New York rather than be forced to change who she was for the community. Years later and the death of her father has her returning back home for the funeral and to a community that still disapproves of her lifestyle. But with her arrival also comes a return of old feelings that are sure to further disrupt an already grieving community.


Disobedience doesn’t like to spell everything out for the audience but rather lets them discover the story in bits and pieces. The opening scene has Ronit learning of her father’s death off-screen, and you can see that she’s received bad news when she next appears drinking at the bar. It isn’t until a little bit later that you realize it’s her father who’s died. The entire film is filled with these little “fill in the blank” moments. Personally, I found the mystery of it all to be intriguing although I can understand how some viewers might see it as unnecessarily vague.


Like A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience excels thanks to some fantastic performances from Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola, who plays Rabbi Dovid Kuperman, Esti’s husband and Robit’s adoptive brother of sorts. Yes, technically the film centers around a love triangle, but the performances from the cast, coupled with the influence of faith and community on identity, make for one interesting film regardless.


The contrast between Ronit and Esti is particularly fascinating. On one end of the spectrum you have Ronit who was able to get out and make their own decisions in life, while on the other end you have Esti who conformed to the community guidelines and ignored her own feelings. Sure she’s made it as a successful school teacher who has an impact on her students, and she’s gotten married to a loving husband but at what cost to her own happiness?


Disobedience is another great film from director Sebastián Lelio as it captures the struggle that comes with being yourself. It may not win any Oscars like A Fantastic Woman did, but it’s just as emotionally satisfying.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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