Someone described ‘Disobedience’ to me as ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for lesbians, and it really is not an apt comparison. There’s an inherent huge conflict in ‘Disobedience,’ which is religion, that towers over the whole film, and that is quite different from the mostly internal struggles of Oliver and Elio.
And as a film, ‘Disobedience’ is not as fully realized. This film was directed by Sebastian Lelio, who directed ‘A Fantastic Woman,’ who won the Academy Award last year for Best Foreign Language, and also one of my favorite films of 2017/. But something ‘Disobedience’ feels hollow. It is about Ronit (Rachel Weisz) who goes back to London for her father’s funeral. The father is a renowned rabbi in the Orthodox Jewish community, and his obituary they mentioned that he did not have any children – Ronit is an modern woman, long real hair, leather skirt. She goes to live with the man his father has been mentoring to take over the synagogue, and she finds out he has married her old friend Esti (Rachel McAdams) but wait…there’s more… Esti and Ronit used to be lovers. So sure, the plot is soap opera, but Lelio’s treatment is quiet and classy, and the film feels filmed under an Instagram filter. All that serves as smoke to distract from the story, and that’s all fine. But I wish we got a little more – this was based on Naomi Alderman’s novel and I bet there’s a lot that didn’t make it to screen.
Still, the film isn’t a total loss, we get fantastic performances from both actresses, and it’s always a treat to see these kinds of stories on the big screen.