Disobedience (2018)


Critic Consensus: Disobedience explores a variety of thought-provoking themes, bolstered by gripping work from leads Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola.


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From Sebastián Lelio, the director of the Academy Award-winning A Fantastic Woman, the film follows a woman as she returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for an attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Written by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz and based on Naomi Alderman's book, the film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola.

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Rachel Weisz
as Ronit Krushka
Rachel McAdams
as Esti Kuperman
Alessandro Nivola
as Rabbi Dovid Kuperman
Cara Horgan
as Miss. Scheinberg

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Critic Reviews for Disobedience

All Critics (185) | Top Critics (35)

A great love story requires high stakes, like any other story, and this one delivers.

Jun 15, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The film gets the exterior structures of religion, and even gets the idea of belief, but fails to grasp its content...Of course, such considerations are easy to overlook when a decade's worth of repressed sexuality is bubbling over.

May 25, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Ronit is rebellious, Esti is repressed-two points that Disobedience repeats over and over until the dynamic starts to feel caricatured.

May 21, 2018 | Full Review…

A beautifully crafted tale that will make your heart ache, thanks to two standout leading performances and a great supporting one.

May 17, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Lelio and the actors tell the story through fraught silences and meaningful glances, with Weisz and McAdams movingly conveying the feeling of being lost - and found - together.

May 16, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Lelio's subdued approach to the material robs it of potential emotional power but also keeps the story grounded.

May 13, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Disobedience


A delicate balancing act between the confines that hold together the sense of balance in our lives and the desires that sometimes rub up against them forcing the mind to contemplate what is worth following: the rules or our hearts. This is more complex than we might imagine when young and more ambitiously optimistic as we know the rules we set for ourselves, these things that keep order in our lives, are typically for our benefit. With Disobedience, Sebastián Lelio (Gloria, A Fantastic Woman) guides a young woman (played beautifully by Rachel McAdams) through this life she feels a genuine affection for and having to choose between it and the life she knows is true to who she's always been. It's all rather heartbreaking.

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer


Aside from being the first in line to see the next blockbuster or superhero film, I really enjoy going to see movies that show you a different side of life. Whether that be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a medieval love story, or an inner city crime drama, movies have a way of shaping the world through different eyes and impacting your viewpoint on things for the better. Disobedience is a nice example of a film that displays a forbidden but passionate love story from a fascinating point of view, the religious angle. I no longer consider myself an overtly religious person, but if done right, the stories that derive from that of faith are certainly interesting to watch. And in Disobedience, religion is at the forefront without being overpowering. Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz play Esti and Ronit respectively, two lovers who find themselves back in the same town after the ladder was essentially exiled for being in love with Esti as a young woman. It's these performances, along with Alessandro Nivola as Dovid that bolster this deep drama with humanity and heart. What each of the trio goes through individually is incredibly powerful, especially when you come to realize the emotional stakes that become involved as the film near its end. I found Disobedience to be an extremely thought provoking and unique take on a romance. 7.8/10

Thomas Drufke
Thomas Drufke

Super Reviewer

With this kind of star power, I could foresee Jewish lesbian romance genre film taking off in a big way. We aren't talking Blue is the Warmest Color levels of explicit erotic entertainment, but one could easily expect to see an uptick in Pornhub's search trends for the lead actresses' titillating scenes that lie herein. Yes, you get to see Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams break kosher without a sheet, but just like similar forbidden love stories like Brokeback Mountain, Carol, or Howard the Duck, the movie is much more than the sum of its private parts. Set in a very insular Orthodox Jewish community in London, Ronit (Weisz) returns to mourn the passing of her father, one of the most prominent Rabbis of her childhood home. As in many cases, her traditionalist extended family and the people that surrounded her father are all a bit shocked and perturbed by her arrival after she had made a clean break from her upbringing and culture years before. Her mere presence is insulting to some and welcomed by those who cared the most for her, namely Esti (McAdams), a former love interest who has married straight despite her homosexual leanings. Many awkward pauses and loaded looks ensue. Director Sebastian Lelio is no stranger to the clash between alternate lifestyles and how they play out in conservative family dynamics. After winning Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars last year for A Fantastic Woman, this seems a perfectly serviceable next step. Considering Lelio's Chilean (and presumably Catholic) background, the director does a fantastic job of inhabiting the liturgy and community of a culture and religion he hasn't lived within. Doubly surprising is how in both this and A Fantastic Woman he can help bring to life characters who do not fit into rigid social constructs and portray them in a tasteful, multifaceted way. Conceivably, one could place this story in the context of any other religious group. Aside from the candlesticks and hats, this could be a Mormon, Amish, or Southern Baptist group and they probably wouldn't miss a beat seeing as how most of the prevailing tenets of those faiths are predicated on a tradition that assumes it has what is best for family and culture yet fails to account for the ways of the world and how the moral zeitgeist shifts. You can't really pick up a book and prescribe to everyone a behavior set that goes against their basic biology, but when all you know, see, and have is structured around that book, is there really any free will for HaShem to judge you by?

K Nife Churchkey
K Nife Churchkey

Super Reviewer


SHEBREWS - My Review of DISOBEDIENCE (2 1/2 Stars) Chilean-born writer/director Sebastián Lelio won the Oscar this year for Foreign Language Film with A FANTASTIC WOMAN. His follow-up, DISOBEDIENCE, co-written by the brilliant Rebecca Lenkiewicz (IDA) based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, has pedigree to spare and a talented cast at the top of their game, but it won't win any Oscars and while somewhat absorbing and well-intentioned, comes across as a disjointed, flat, long slog. Set in the Orthodox Jewish community of London, the film tells the story of successful photographer Ronit (Rachel Weisz), a prodigal daughter returning from New York for her Rabbi father's funeral. Her boozy, bender of a lifestyle contrasts sharply with the people she reconnects with upon her return. It's apparent right away that Ronit wears the "Outcast" label, but unless you've studied the movie poster or saw the trailer, it's not clear why just yet. Straight from the airport, she lands on the doorstep of childhood friends Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), next in line for the Rabbi position, and his wife Esti (Rachel McAdams), who wears the wig and adheres to the strict rules of a woman in this religious environment. The tension between the three slowly bears out the fact that Ronit and Esti have been in love with each other in the past. How Ronit, Esti and David navigate this complicated love triangle and reconcile their actions and feelings with their faith (or lack thereof) constitutes the overall story of the film. It's a tale worth telling, and I cannot find fault with the three leads. Weisz commands attention just by smoking a cigarette or taking on a community (especially during a tense dinner scene) who struggle offering her a place in their world. Nivola has an impressive stillness to his performance, slowly revealing depth, warmth, and yet the air of entitlement men feel when they hold all the cards. At times he gave me Mandy Patinkin in YENTL vibes. Most of all, McAdams delivers a stunning, brutal performance as a woman who aims to please everyone around her but herself. Her scenes with Weisz crackle with repressed sexual tension especially an honest, raw sex scene, yet you also understand why she's drawn to her husband, who often leads with a direct and tender kindness. It's rich complicated stuff, but it's all in service of an overly long, maudlin, listless flatline of a film. What should be riveting feels like a General Foods International Coffee commercial, with its endlessly shallow depth of field cinematography by Danny Cohen (LES MISERABLES, THE KING'S SPEECH, ROOM), who has built a recent resume around films with too many close-ups. He knows how to create pretty images, but man, pull back every now and then, please! Despite its excessive running time, I also found the storytelling to be disjointed at best. It took a while to sort out how the three principals knew each other, and certain sections felt like they were missing scenes that would have better clarified things a bit better. It's ridiculously extended final act, in particular, kept going and going, with one annoying scene after another, searching for and eventually finding an appropriate ending. I couldn't wait for it to end, yet I still appreciate its exploration of a little seen world, and one presented with such committed performances. All told, I'm gonna quote my late Jewish grandmother with her one word critique of all things she disliked: "Feh!"

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

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