“Disobedience”: Desire Faces Oppressive Culture

Ultimately, this is a gently humane portrait of an enduring problem facing men and women in all manner of fundamentalist communities: the notion that choice has anything to do with who we desire. Sara Stewart, New York Post, reviewing Disobedience

An award-winning book (2006) of the same title written by Naomi Alderman, the new film Disobedience is described in brief by Stephanie Zacharek, Time

Rachel Weisz plays Ronit, a successful New York photographer who’s called home to London after the death of her father, a beloved and respected Orthodox rabbi. Ronit has distanced herself from her extended family, and it has in turn disavowed her. When she arrives, she’s met with cool suspicion, though her father’s favorite pupil, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), practically a family member, tries to show her some kindness.

As if Ronit’s jumbled feelings of grief and estrangement aren’t enough, she learns that Dovid has married one of her old school friends, Esti (Rachel McAdams), and the reconciliation between the two women introduces a wrenching complication. As teenagers, they’d been in love. The community caught wind of their romance, and its disapproval was predictably deafening.

The trailer:

Selected Reviews

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, advises viewers to “try not to think about where you already know it’s going and appreciate how it builds, and how it’s about a lot more than sex. At its most intense and powerful, ‘Disobedience’ is about courage and claiming one’s life…”

Stephanie Zacharek, Time: “Cuts deeper than your standard forbidden-love story, largely because the actors are so attuned to their characters’ anguish.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

‘May you live a long life,’ are the words exchanged frequently in this insular community. But for Esti and Ronit, it’s ultimately the question of how you live a life that gives the film its soulful resonance. Their scenes together achieve a stabbing pathos that never crosses into sentimentality or sham. No one who sees the groundbreaking trail that the movie blazes is going to shut up about it. And why should they? You can discover a lot about yourself by getting lost in such a transcendent ode to passion. Surrender to it.

Bruce Demara, Toronto Star: “…never seeks to condemn the orthodoxy of faith or to offer any tired bromides. Rather, it speaks to the frailties of ordinary human beings riven by competing desires and convictions, giving us an ending that is unexpected, moving and powerful.”

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “…shows a generosity of spirit toward its three central characters; as with all good movies, it ends with you wondering what happens to the characters afterward.”

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