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With: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola, Anton Lesser
Written by: Sebastián Lelio, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on the novel by Naomi Alderman
Directed by: Sebastián Lelio
MPAA Rating: R for some strong sexuality
Running Time: 114
Date: 04/27/2018

Disobedience (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Torah and Fauna

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With an intuitive insight into the survival instincts of women, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio builds a powerful portrait of a secret, struggling relationship, fleshed out by two fine performances.

In Disobedience, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is working as a photographer in New York City when she receives a message that her father, a beloved and respected Orthodox rabbi in London, has died. She travels there, only to receive a confused and lukewarm greeting from her old friend Dovid (Alessando Nivola); Dovid had been the rabbis student and is now being considered as a successor.

Also shocked to see Ronit is Esti (Rachel McAdams), and Ronit is equally shocked to learn that Dovid and Esti have married. Ronit becomes further dismayed at her father's obituary, which mentions that he was "childless," and with the news that she has not inherited the family's house. As she mourns and tries to reconcile her relationship with her father, an old connection between Ronit and Esti flares up once more; could this have been the reason that Ronit left home in the first place?

Lelio makes his English-language debut with Disobedience, and, as with Lelio's two previous movies Gloria and the Oscar-winning Best Foreign Language Film A Fantastic Woman, it depicts a complex diorama of pain and longing, a hoping for acceptance but also a bracing for loneliness. He has a sure touch for performance as well as for composition and tone, and the result is an intelligent, emotionally true movie that never steps wrong.

Weisz gives one of her finest performances as the deeply flawed Ronit, who perhaps hoped to have things both ways and is dismayed that her choices may have led to heartbreak. She's not entirely sympathetic even if her feelings are totally understandable. McAdams is also superb as the woman who escaped in a different way, into the stability of a marriage she doesn't care about, simply because she doesn't have anywhere else to go.

Separately, they inhabit a chilly, overcast world of houses (no homes) and rituals, wandering through in medium-wide shots. However, their moments together, of release and confession, are close-up and intimate, as well as breathtaking and profound.

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