Skip to main content

Film Reviews Review: Disobedience is a devastating and beautiful love story

Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams in Disobedience.

Courtesy of Mongrel

rating

  • Disobedience
  • Directed by Sebastian Lelio
  • Written by Sebastian Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz
  • Starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams
  • Classification 14A
  • 114 minutes
  • Opening May 18 in Toronto and Vancouver

This past weekend, I paid an overdue visit to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. (2018 slogan: “It’s complicated.” Oy, the shticky humour of this festival.) While the film I happened to catch – Mikael Buch’s small-scale drama Simon & Theodore – was fine enough, I would have paid double to simply witness the audience reaction to another TJFF selection: Sebastian Lelio’s taboo-busting romance, Disobedience.

The film, which opens in limited release this weekend, is a wonderfully sensuous and deliberately provocative look at what happens when London photographer Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns to the strict Orthodox Jewish community that once shunned her. The reason for the exile? That would be Ronit’s attraction to her friend, the now-married Esti (Rachel McAdams).

Disobedience marks the first English-language film for Chilean director Lelio – whose transgender romance A Fantastic Woman recently won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film – and it is also his most affecting work. Early scenes are almost too heavy to bear, in terms of the repression both women face – even the muted colours of their North London surroundings are seemingly designed to drown their desires in dullness – but when the pair get the opportunity to face each other one-on-one, the energy is relentless.

A cheap and easy way to summarize Disobedience’s standout scene would be Blue Is the Warmest Color meets A Price Above Rubies (or, as the director himself quipped, “Jew is the Warmest Colour”), but Lelio’s film is about more than sex, or its perhaps easy ability to shock. It is a love story, as beautiful as it is devastating.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter