Encompassed by an incredible opening scene Disobedience is a deeply meaningful story about a forbidden romance full of heartbreak and passion. Directed by Sebastián Lelio (A Beautiful Woman, 2017), the story follows Ronit (Rachel Weisz) who returns to the Jewish community she was previously shunned from. Upon returning she begins to reconnect with Esti (Rachel McAdams), an old friend, as together they explore their faith and sexuality. Disobedience is a deeply moving romantic drama that touches on some strong thoughtful themes and is not short of beautifully heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. Enhanced by incredible emotionally-rich performances from Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams the story is gripping and has you caring strongly about their characters’ journey.
This story is a tension-filled tale that hooks you in on an emotional level and throws you through a number of highs and lows. It’s a love story that progresses at a slow pace but it does so to incite investment in the core relationship, and also to build a level of tension that lingers over the entire film and is incredibly effective. I love the way the story doesn’t ever rush into things, it takes its time introducing all of the moving parts and placing little pieces here and there that will pay off in the future. The entire first act for instance is a ripe with tension and you feel like it’s gripping your arm and won’t let go until it delivers a release. As the story develops it takes you on an emotional journey that will shock, surprise, and gather an emotional response you probably won’t expect. The romantic story between Ronit and Esti is at the forefront of the film and always in focus but it’s not the only developing storyline. There are a number of character-specific arcs all progressing in the background, some of which aren’t as engaging but the majority are as they concern characters you care about. If you aren’t a fan of a slowly-moving pace this may irk you but the emotional engagement it creates I feel will keep your mind off the pace.
Disobedience benefits from the thrilling and deeply invested performances from Weisz and McAdams who are exceptional through all of their scenes. The way they express all of the emotion their characters are going through so sharply is amazingly captivating. The range of raw emotion from pain to pleasure that they are able to evoke in their performances is fantastic and makes so many deeply moving scenes that much more effective. Their performances are so intertwined through this story that they go hand-in-hand, you can’t separate the two as through every emotional interaction they compliment each-other. On the supporting side Alessandro Nivola stands out with a strong performance as Dovid who goes through his own tribulations as the story develops. There is one scene of his that didn’t hit as well as it should but it’s still emotionally elevated by McAdams’ presence.
The score from Matthew Herbert is subtle for the majority of the film but has a couple of moments where it really kicks into gear and outlines some beautiful moments and also some chilling ones.
So, in the end Disobedience is a very passionate romantic drama boasting a great story and incredible performances from Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. There’s a certain elegance and conflict to this romantic tale that makes it gripping from beginning to end and by no means a by-the-numbers love story. It’s absolutely not for everyone in its slow approach to storytelling but I don’t think there is a better way to have gone about it.