Disobedience - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Disobedience Reviews

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May 17, 2019
Watch this if: Sometimes you are totally in the mood for a love story that's full of soul and takes the patriarchy head on.

Disobedience shook us to our very cores. Our hearts ached for Ronit as she confronted her complicated past. This film by Academy Award winning director Sebastian Leilo deals with the crushing effects of the place you call home not accepting your way of loving. The filming is gorgeous and tantalizing, and Weisz and McAdams are electric in their roles (as always). This one's a slow-burn, but trust us, it is sooooo worth it.
May 6, 2019
The actors did a good job but I thought the movie was slow and kind of predictable
½ April 24, 2019
A well-told love-story set against a background of religious orthodoxy

Depicting the problems that can arise when deeply held spiritual beliefs clash with notions of personal freedom, Disobedience is the story of a forbidden love given a second chance. Based on Naomi Alderman's 2006 novel, written for the screen by Sebastian Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and directed by Lelio, the film deals with a lesbian relationship within London's relatively insular Modern Orthodox Jewish community. Uninterested in presenting a binary story where faith is the Big Bad, although the film is certainly critical of the strictures that can result from a rigid application of Jewish religious law, the community itself is depicted respectfully.

When Rav Kruschka (Anton Lesser) dies in the midst of a service, his estranged daughter Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns home from New York, heading to the house of Dovid (a superb Alessandro Nivola), her childhood friend, and Kruska's protege. Although the community isn't happy to see her, Dovid offers her a spare room. She accepts and is stunned to learn he is married to Esti (Rachel McAdams), another childhood friend. Over the next few days as the community prepare for Krushka's funeral, it becomes clear that Ronit and Esti were once more than friends, and the more time they spend in one another's company, the more their suppressed feelings come to the surface.

Thematically, Disobedience is far more concerned with the clash of views that result from Ronit's return than it is with condemning the beliefs of the community per se. On paper, the story might lend itself to a condemnation of the kind of social suffocation and emotional repression that can result from fundamentalism. Instead, however, the film spends time building a respectful, if not idealised, picture of the community. A key part in this is Dovid himself. In a less nuanced film, he would be a fire-and-brimstone Roger Chillingworth-type, an obstacle to Ronit and Esti's happiness. Instead he is presented as someone who faces a difficult choice - that between his communal position and his faith on the one hand, and his genuine love of Esti and affection for Ronit on the other.

However, for all that, the film never lets you forget that this is a community where married women must wear a sheitel wig in public and where the genders are strictly divided at religious services. As Ronit and Esti discuss their sexuality, Esti points out that she and Dovid have sex every Friday night, "as is expected", and that the reason she was married to him in the first place was that Krushka hoped "marriage would cure" her lesbian desire. In this sense, although respectful of the community, the film certainly challenges its myopic sexism.

Obviously, a major theme is sexuality. There are actually two sex scenes in the film; one between Ronit and Esti, and the other between Esti and Dovid. And although they couldn't be more different, they also couldn't exist without one another, as the abandonment, lust, and sense of pressure being released when Esti is with Ronit contrasts sharply with the detached, formulaic, and passionless scene with Dovid. The scene between Ronit and Esti is the physical manifestation of the characters' long-repressed desire. It's a wholly justified narrative moment, and a necessary beat for the two characters. It's not an aside or a piece of voyeuristic male fantasy, it's the centre of the whole film. Together, the two scenes represent Esti's binary choice - an unbridled and sexually fulfilling, but unstable relationship with Ronit, or a dutiful and dull, but respectful and secure relationship with Dovid.

If I had one major criticism, it would be that although Lelio's direction is subtle, some of his and Lenkiewicz's writing choices are spectacularly on the nose. The opening sermon is a good example - a religious diatribe whose subject is mankind's freedom to choose, the concomitant ability to disobey, and the notion that freedom is impossible without sacrifice, in a film about these very same issues. The worst example of this, however, is found when Ronit and Esti go to Krushka's house and Ronit turns on the radio, which just so happens to be playing The Cure's "Lovesong", a song which perfectly encapsulates their situation.

These issues aside though, this is an excellently crafted film. Once again examining female desire, issues of patriarchal oppression, and profound self-doubt, Lelio delivers a mature and considered meditation on the conflict between faith and sexuality. Equal parts sensual and spiritual, the lethargic pace and absence of any narrative fireworks will probably alienate some, but for the rest of us, this is thoughtful and provocative cinema.
April 15, 2019
Very powerful movie, amazing cast, very real story written with subtleness. Great love story!
April 11, 2019
So, it's no secret that slow moving films don't always speak to me... This was no exception, the pacing for this was hard for me to get through. I love Rachel McAdams, and Rachel Weisz really made me appreciate her more after her role in The Favourite!

This is my third film by the director, Gloria (which he's remaking for us lazy English speakers who refuse to watch foreign films... ū(TM)) was really well done and A Fantastic Woman (despite its flaws) was a really intriguing look into a world I hadn't seen before.

Disobedience fell flat for me, I didn't know what to expect going into it but I do know that I was hoping for something with more of a lasting impact. I will say there was one scene that was very powerful for me, I recently compared it to a scene from Call Me by Your Name (which I also didn't like as a whole).

This is actually my last avaliable film I can see without purchasing anything blindly (thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime video) before the Oscar nominations on Tuesday. So that worked out really well! I wouldn't be hurt at all if McAdams or Weisz got a nomination. Oddly enough, I really enjoyed their respective roles even though I think the film didn't hit! (Has anyone else had an experience like that?)

I couldn't help but think the entire film about what it would be like with a change of scenery. I would've been interested to see if she was coming home to New York instead. It's a fun experience to wonder what if in movies (in my opinion).

I really feel like a lot of things could've gone differently in this to make it a far more interesting film for me. I enjoyed a lot of the dialogue but it seemed like much of that was wasted.


Over the last few weeks, I realize just how much I wish I could attend TIFF! So many powerful film seem to premiere there! Seeing the talks about people going to Sundance is making me jealous as well! I'd love to attend a really meaningful film festival!
½ March 26, 2019
This unconventional love story is told brilliantlty with the direction and the acting of the two leads.
March 18, 2019
Disobedience me gustó mucho. El manejo del argumento y la evolución que van teniendo los personajes ante sus conflictos es maravilloso.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2019
Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams star in the indie drama Disobedience. The story follows a young woman who returns to her childhood home to attend the funeral of her estranged father, an orthodox Jewish rabbi who disowned her. Neither Weisz nor McAdams give much of a performance, and the script doesn't help them out. Despite the orthodox Jewish community setting, the issue of faith never comes up or factors into the characters' choices. And the placing is incredibly slow, dragging on and on. Poorly made, Disobedience is a drab and monotonous film.
½ March 4, 2019
Yet another British film that explores some deep rooted Jewish themes ala the excellent Apostasy I saw last year.
Yet again I'm not going to make any judgments on religious beliefs, in particular Judaism.
Here we see a character called Ronit (Rachel Weisz) return to her childhood home in a strict Jewish orthodox community in London after learning her chief rabbi father has died.
Ronit shunned the Jewish lifestyle for a 'free' lifestyle in New York in the course of this cutting off contact with her old lifestyle expectations that some of her childhood friends including Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) have followed with a loveless marriage.
The film also explores some themes of lesbianism as Ronit and Esti briefly rekindle their lesbian relationship tendencies. Weisz follows similar themes in The Favourite.
To a non-Jew the film gives a brief insight into the orthodox lifestyle and beliefs and is thought provoking in the process.
February 20, 2019
This is one of the best lebian movies ever. The story line is good & the 2 Rachels are fantastic.
February 19, 2019
This deeply felt and surprising romance is buoyed by Weisz, McAdams, and most notably Nivola. Lelio adds another wonderfully queer and complex film to his nascent (and already impressive) canon.
February 18, 2019
Before affirming that "Disobedience" explores thought-provoking themes, one should ask what the meaning of transgression can be in an era that made it as the new rule. In addition, the story takes place during the period of mourning for the death of a protagonist's father, and the film proceeds with an unsustainably funeral rhythm until the hasty, simplistic, liquidatory ending. Perhaps the most significant phrase is "We are behaving like teenagers".
(Mauro Lanari)
½ February 18, 2019
Too much noise for simple scissors sister performance between Rachel and Rachel
½ January 23, 2019
A beautifully crafted tale that will make your heart ache, thanks to two standout leading performances and a great supporting one.
½ January 6, 2019
Terrific performances and wonderfully shot. The film's characters resolve their differences a little too smoothly for me by the end, but a captivating film.
½ December 23, 2018
Powerful. On family pressures and how hard it is to tear yourself away from family expectations, especially religious expectations. Amazing acting.
½ December 17, 2018
it was a good movie i would recommend
Super Reviewer
½ December 10, 2018
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, Sebasti√°n 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.
December 8, 2018
An engrossing, beautifully filmed, and perfectly paced tale of coming to terms with difficult choices that pit the individual against home and community. The story of the bohemian Jewish woman who returns to London to confront the death of her estranged father quickly re-opens an old wound. And yet, as it turns out, this is less a tale of awkward homecoming than one of liberation, where the true protagonist is not the rebel who fled, but rather the woman who loved her and was left behind. Now married to a kind, upright, honest rabbi, and teaching at a girls' school, Esti (Rachel MacAdams) seemingly has got a good life, but in reality was never given a choice. What makes the film so satisfying is that it depicts the journey of three characters, all needing to go beyond their comfort zones so that their lives and the values of their community may be truly meaningful.
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