Disobedience (2017)

Poster for Disobedience (2017) From a screenplay by Sebastián Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, 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. Based on Naomi Alderman's book, the film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola.

114 minutes
Sebastián Lelio

Shown at

  1. 25th Annual International Film Fest (Eastern Connecticut) - 2019
  2. 26th Toronto Jewish Film Festival - 2018
  3. Budapesti Zsidó és Izraeli Filmfesztivál - 2018
  4. East Bay International Jewish Film Festival - 2019
  5. Moscow Jewish Film Festival - 2018
  6. Rutgers Jewish Film Festival - 2018

14 Responses

  1. jewishfilmfests says:

    Review: Disobedience is a devastating and beautiful love story

    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).


  2. jewishfilmfests says:

    Review: The Flesh Is Willing in ‘Disobedience’

    In “Disobedience,” the emotions are reserved, the palette muted, the rooms claustrophobic, the storytelling restrained. It’s almost a surprise that Ronit (Rachel Weisz), a successful art photographer living in New York, can breathe, given how drained of oxygen this frustrating movie is. It doesn’t seem especially airless at first, when Ronit is seen taking a portrait of a tattooed, bare-chested, much-older gent. They’re in a nice, roomy studio, and as he poses, she teasingly speaks to him about smiling, a nonchalant exchange that telegraphs some of this story’s larger concerns.


  3. jewishfilmfests says:

    Disobedience Is a Portrait of Lost Women Seeking Connection

    The lesbian Orthodox drama Disobedience starts with a kind of challenge. An elderly British Orthodox rabbi — the most respected kind, a rav — played by Anton Lesser with fun Olivier cadences, turns away from the Ark and tells his rapt congregation (bearded men down front, bewigged women in the rafters) that humans, unlike angels and demons, are “free to choose.” Then he keels over, dead, which doesn’t look like a choice. But his words nonetheless hang over the film. Rachel Weisz plays the rav’s estranged daughter, Ronit, who is told of his death while in New York photographing an old man covered with tattoos (you shall not incise any marks on yourself); promptly has sex in a bathroom stall (you shall not drunkenly fornicate with strangers in loos); and goes ice-skating (the Torah is silent on ice-skating, except on the Sabbath). Then Ronit returns to London to help bury her dad, not expecting to run promptly into her old lesbian lover, Esti.


  4. jewishfilmfests says:

    Disobedience Is a Drab Story of Forbidden Love

    Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams star in this slow-burning tale of a lesbian romance in London’s Orthodox Jewish community.


  5. jewishfilmfests says:

    ‘Disobedience’ Review: Forbidden-Love Romance Is Scorching – and Feast For Its Stars

    Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams turn story of same-sex attraction in London’s Orthodox Jewish community into steamy, slow-burn drama


  6. jewishfilmfests says:

    ‘Disobedience’ is about more than Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams’s sex scene. It’s about freedom.

    The quality that distinguishes human beings from both angels and beasts is our free will — “the power to disobey.” So says a spiritual leader to his flock in the opening scene of “Disobedience.” The complication? That speaker is Rabbi Krushka (Anton Lesser), a widower whose daughter’s willfulness has caused her to be exiled from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in which she grew up.


  7. jewishfilmfests says:

    ‘Disobedience’: Film Review | TIFF 2017

    Disobedience, a cryptic title that invites more than one interpretation, may be too somber and unhurried to break beyond a niche audience. But the movie’s soulful reflections on collective faith and individual freedoms get under your skin, continuing to resonate after the end credits have rolled. It confirms Lelio’s ascent among the most interesting filmmakers coming out of Latin America.


  8. jewishfilmfests says:

    ‘Disobedience’ review: Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams love story beautifully handled

    If the film lacks a formidable emotional impact, that’s partly by design. Director Lelio, whose film “A Fantastic Woman” won the foreign language Oscar this year, knows he cannot go at “Disobedience,” a story of an enclosed world and an interloper, the same way he approached his previous, more straightforwardly dramatic projects. This is his first movie in English; his next film will be a remake of “Gloria” starring Julianne Moore. “Disobedience” sometimes wants for rougher edges, and a fuller characterization for Weisz to play. But there’s real satisfaction in watching her, McAdams and Nivola inhabit a fraught and complicated relationship, each performer filling every glance and pause with what their conflicted hearts are saying without words.


  9. jewishfilmfests says:

    Disobedience Review: A Strangely Staid Story About Hidden Passions

    Perhaps the most successful aspect of Disobedience is Matthew Herbert’s searching, at times sinister score. It brings to mind the way Mica Levi’s score for another Chilean director’s Toronto-premiering film, Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, suggested a dark interior force or spirit guiding and haunting the more placid imagery on screen. Herbert’s music gives Disobedience jolts of allure and mystery. I wish only that the film could deliver on all that evocativeness. Still, there is the big sex scene, the focused performances, and the film’s formal graces all working to make Disobedience worth a ponder. It’s not earth-shaking cinema, but it does move the bed a few inches.


  10. jewishfilmfests says:

    Circle of Trust
    “Disobedience” is an intimate, subtle examination of a tight-knit community, told through a lesbian love affair.

    Although Disobedience is marketed under the tagline “Love is an act of defiance,” its execution has managed to evade a crude rendering of Esti’s desire as the opposite of her Judaism. When she says that the word of Hashem is her life, it sounds true, is true. The final message of Disobedience—delivered inside shul itself—is that we are all free to choose. Truly devout Jewish life is not about coercion or denial of self. I have little insight into what the Orthodox community will make of the movie, but I hope that Michelle St Morris will see it and write down her thoughts.


  11. jewishfilmfests says:

    ‘Disobedience’ Review: Rachel McAdams Thrillingly Rages Against the Patriarchal Machine [Tribeca]

    The stakes are high, yet Disobedience never slips into easy melodrama. Lelio focuses far more on the non-verbal language of affection and repulsion than any grand speeches or gestures. Lucky for him, he’s got fluent speakers in the art of the gaze with McAdams, Weisz and Nivola. Lelio’s script, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s novel with Rebecca Lenkiewicz, gives them plenty to work with. But the performers take the long leash and run with it in exciting directions. The film lives in Weisz’s frightened glances seeking permanence and McAdams’ glistening eyes once she remembers transgression is a choice available to her. We’ve come to take the former for granted and scarcely recognize the latter at all. Hopefully this movie changes both. If filmmakers can’t find it within themselves to let Rachel McAdams time travel along with her on-screen husbands, at least recognize her as a modern master of the stare.


  12. jewishfilmfests says:

    Pauline Kael observed that melodrama is “the chief vehicle for political thought in our films,” which you can see time and again, particularly in films made before the 1950s. In literature, melodrama can come off as overblown, preachy. But cinema can make melodrama seem not just real, but urgent and relevant. “Disobedience” could have gone even further in the direction of “Stella Dallas”-melodrama torment. Some of it comes across as curiously low-stakes, considering the circumstances. But, in a way, that’s refreshing too.


  13. jewishfilmfests says:

    Film Review: Disobedience Finds the Joy and Agony in Its Quietly Repressed Lives

    The performances, like the film, are rich, layered things of tremendous feeling and complexity. The characters, like the film, are imperfect but well worthy of cherishing. Disobedience loves those imperfections, just as it reveres those who find it in themselves to cherish, worship, be honest, be brave, and be kind. It’s a film of incredible compassion, centered on performers of fathomless depth. Let out that breath you’ve been holding for years, and let it sweep you away.


  14. jewishfilmfests says:

    Review: Weisz, McAdams affair colors ‘Disobedience’

    Weisz and McAdams do excellent work, especially McAdams, whose Esti is trained to keep her emotions bottled up inside. The movie does the same thing, always keeping itself in check, although sometimes you just wish it would explode.


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