Movie Review: DISOBEDIENCE - What To Do When Faith Forbids Love?

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Movie Review: DISOBEDIENCE - Photo credit:, Edition by Amber255 via

Chilean Sebastián Lelio, with his last two glamorous films Gloria and A Fantastic Woman, turned his eyes to the stories of the women who survive the storms of destiny. The same is for his latest film, his debut work DISOBEDIENCE: a story of love, faith, sexuality, and personal liberty that is developing within the boundaries of the London Jewish Orthodox community. 

The film about sexual identity is a cooperation of three countries - Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States; and, as I mentioned, the product of a rising Chilean star, Sebastian Lelio, the favorite of the festivals who decided to make a film in English. Real International film. I cannot fail to mention that the film is the film version of Naomi Alderman’s debut novel, which co-wrote the script and co-produced here.

Disobedience its a great film, its a realistic and human history so powerful and with great performances by the three main characters.The chemestry between both Rachels its so real.


 After reading the annotation to the film, I expected to see bright same-sex's love, but in my opinion, the film is not about same-sex love, and not about love at all, but about freedom of choice, rejection of nonconformity by society, and a way to save at least a little of your soul and the right to be free man.

 And the main character in it is not a girl who managed to get out of the hands of the orthodox society, but a beaten friend who is looking for her own self. But, let's talk about everything in order. 

I forgot to mention that DISOBEDIENCE is Netflix drama from the IMDb list of 50 best movies of 2018. so, let's talk about this controversial film

DISOBEDIENCE, Official Trailer - Video credit:

The Short Story Of The Movie 

Many years ago, Ronit (Rachel Weisz), not wanting to live as her rabbi father wanted, left for New York to live as she wished. She became a freelance photographer. For ten years, she had not seen her own father - a highly respected rabbi of the north London's Jewish Orthodox community (a powerful and impressive episode role of Anton Lesser).

Ronit escaped from that place, fleeing from his father's stern approach to secular life in New York, where she lived while enjoying independence, but felt guilty of a broken father's heart: he was a widow, and her daughter was his only family.

Now, father's death gave her an impetus to meet with the society from which she had run for so many years. Having overcome the first instinct by suppressing pain in destructive ways, she agrees for the inevitable and frightening need to return home. There she encounters many difficulties, but there are two bright spots — two childhood friends.


DISOBEDIENCE, the film about sexual identity - Photo credit:

And in London, there are various ceremonies - a true embodiment of religious obedience and compliance. Ronit feels curious and condemning but at the same time frightening glances of others because of her authentic relationship with the respected spiritual leader.

Ronit is most shocked by her old-time friends: David (Alessandro Nivola), the beloved pupil of her father, practically son, and Esti (Rachel McAdams), the only one who once supported the rebellious Ronit way. 

The Content Of The Movie 

The film delicately and carefully, as if not to offend anyone, describes the subtleties of Ronita’s return to her close religious community. Naturally, the above-mentioned female reunion quickly gives rise to passion, and she, in turn, intimacy. Similar destroys the order of this world, where tradition dominates in claustrophobic spaces. I would say, the life story according to the author’s idea becomes almost philosophical; the scenes are perhaps visually beautiful, but hardly settle in the hearts of the audience.

The film, of course, is not dynamic; borne in mind that this is the drama. But in general, the film is about misunderstanding, about the eternal problem of fathers and children, about the lack of choice, about the fact that you must correspond to the society in which you live, that you do not have the right to make a mistake, although we are all people, about the pain that close people can give you, and probably, about the disappointment of close people and others.

The film makes you think. And of course, this is a kind of art-house, not for the mass public. I expected a bit of different ending - more defined.


DISOBEDIENCE, forbidden love movie - Photo credit:

Perhaps the film implies that if you want something, then you need to take action, in spite of all laws and prohibitions. If you love a person, even if this love is not considered the norm, then you need to follow the call of the heart. To me, it's the point of the film.

It is interesting to look as if from the inside on how religion breaks people's lives. As young people who grew up in religious communities, being gay or lesbian due to religious prejudices are forced to live someone else's life, and only the most courageous and strong can go their lives road.

The film shows a dilemma - how the three best friends can to keep up their relationship, but each finds the right path for himself while there is still time for it. David - whether to become a rabbi; Esti - whether to stay with a husband or leave with Ronit? Ronit - weather to break an orthodox, albeit not very real family?


 Netflix drama DISOBEDIENCE - Photo

Conclusion - religious fanaticism does not make anyone happy. You need to live by your mind.

When you watch a movie, pay attention to the scene of the embrace of three old friends during the funeral service. I imagined three teenagers, embracing to isolate themselves from the heavy burden of the word "must."

This is very difficult to watch almost two hours about the life of the orthodox Jews of London and their small piece in the personage of the only daughter of a rabbi, who turned away from orthodoxy. How many of these pieces over the past 400 years, drove across the ocean from the orthodoxy of Europe? Even two hundred years ago, for such kind of relationships, people were not just killed, but burned alive, skinned alive, remember what else were used to practice as a punishment for everything?

When we watch the horrors perpetrated by modern religious radicals, we forget that recently our ancestors were exactly the same. This is one of the hints scattered on the film. It is human nature to doubt and go against the stream; now is the time to remember the name of the film and understand why it is.

I took the finale of the film as open to discussion, but someone can understand it as a concrete answer, I think. What awaits us tomorrow and what the family will look like in the near future is a very big question. 


DISOBEDIENCE, forbidden love movie - Photo credit:

The Personages Of The Movie 

In the center are three childhood friends Ronit, Esti, and David. Ronit comes to the Orthodox community in London for the funeral of her father - a rabbi, where she learns that her ex-girlfriend Estee (not even a bisexual, but an absolute lesbian), under the influence of religious environment, was forced to marry their best friend David - the future rabbi of the community.

And so, Esti and Dovid are married, and Ronit is stunned how aged, serious, and conservative they look, and what the abyss is between her and her friends now. However, Lelio's drama is not simply about it, as it is obvious that Ronit is not as far from Esti as it first appears, and Ronit's return awakens sleeping feelings.


50 best movies of 2018: DISOBEDIENCE - Photo credit:

The truth is that Ronit and Esti were more than girlfriends, and Ronit ran not only from the clutches of religion but also from banned love. The film allows the audience to decide for themselves how secret their relationship was. Esti path to herself is neither pre-labeled nor predictable.

The portrait of Dovid, created by Nivola - a comprehensive, torn by hostile feelings - gives this drama a much wider emotional palette and long-lasting bitterness. 

Also in the film, the Jewish community in which the heroes of the film live is well shown, all the characters played convincingly, even though the viewer does not agree with their point of view on what life should be, but it is clear that they believe that they are right. 


 Alessandro Nivola in Netflix drama DISOBEDIENCE  - Photo credit:

The Technical Side Of The Movie 

Another distinctive feature of this band is the tape soundtrack created by British electronic music composer Matthew Herbert (Lelio also collaborated with him on A Fantastic Woman), which strengthens the special contemplative mood, while strategically used Hebrew prayers raise the heartbreak and seriousness of the story. The music in the film is really gorgeous, and I enjoyed it. 

And a little more - a warning: there is a savory lesbian scene in the film, and if you dislike such a spectacle, it is better to skip it.

In the film, I liked the authentic image of the lifestyle of an orthodox Jewish family. It is always interesting to plunge into the culture of another nation, especially such a closed one as the Jews. Due to the innovative shooting, the sensation of the barrier was removed, and it seemed that you were sitting at the table with the guests at dinner on the Shabbat.


The LGBT film, DISOBEDIENCE review - Photo credit:

Shooting seemed interesting; it is deliberately simple. and it seems that it is being conducted with the help of an amateur camera. Work with the light and the image also seemed unusual; the colors in the film are dull, muted, almost monochrome.

The locations were selected beautiful, and they perfectly showed the atmosphere of the city and the people who live there, but such a slightly gloomy, cold picture makes the melodramatic component of the film weaker. But with this, the atmosphere of lack of choice and a certain doom increases that the main characters can have a happy future. As well as the dramatic moments are felt stronger.

Rachel Weisz And Rachel McAdams On Exploring Faith & Love In DISOBEDIENCE - Video credit:

The Collective Work of The Actors

The game of actors is very natural, without theatrical pauses and played glances. In the game of actors, I saw live human emotions. Not all the actors are known to me, but I was pleased with their work. Basically, the three actors play in the movie, but they are well remembered and well suited to the tone of the picture.

Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola created strong roles. Nivola is particularly impressive in the second plan role - we have not seen such actor's maturity yet. 

I really liked the game Rachel Weiss: she played emotionally, sensually, beautifully, and most importantly, not overdone.

The role of Esty is played by an actress Rachel McAdams who played in the comedy films The Hot Chick and Game Night, which is a brilliant transformation into a dramatic actress.


Rachel Weisz, Alessandro Nivola, and Rachel McAdams in DISOBEDIENCE - Photo credit:

About the theme of love, that actress played well, the chemistry is felt, although there is not much time devoted to the development of their relationship. But their joint kissing scenes and one scene in bed are very emotional, lively and, most importantly, look real. 

The women are remarkable, unforgettable. But don’t overlook Nivola, an enigmatic figure as the rabbi and husband. 


On The Final Note

The name of the movie itself - DISOBEDIENCE - is mysterious and open to interpretation. At the core heart of this exciting love story remains the question about disobedience: who feels it and of what. 

This film may be too grim and too slow to bring Lelio's popular fame, but the themes of collective faith and individual freedom raised by him are worrying for a long time the mind even after leaving the theater.

The philosophy of the film is that our children are not obliged to live and think the way we want it. Every person has the same rights as all others to believe in what he wants, and he can love the one he desires.


DISOBEDIENCE, the film about sexual identity - Photo credit:

Conclusion: it’s hard to say, it all depends on many factors, but if you don’t watch this movie you won’t lose anything. Yes, the film is in some detail different from other films on this topic, but basically, it is the same as other melodramas a film about forbidden love.

The idea of disobedience, especially today, becomes particularly urgent; disobedience is understood almost like a human right because if no one disobeys, then the status of everything stays the same and nothing progresses. - Sebastián Lelio


My rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84/100
Metacritic: 74/100
Critics average: 76/100
IMDb: 6.6/10 




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