“Disobedience”–movie review   Leave a comment

Watching “Disobedience” I remembered the report this morning about Pope Francis saying, among other things, “God made you like this and loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you have to be happy with who you are.” (See the link below*) It is a movie about many things but mainly how being gay and religion interlocks along with how religion is also freedom. It is about the Torah talking about angels and beasts.

Ronit, the estranged daughter who left North London to live in New York returns home upon the death of her father, a rabbi who leads the Orthodox Jewish community while delivering the sermon about those angels and beasts.

She arrives at the home of cousin Dovid who looks like he will probably take over her father’s position. He was a childhood friend of hers just like Esti, now married to Dovid, who had a secret affair with Ronit, until the latter’s father caught them in bed one night which lead to Ronit running to New York where she has become a successful photographer.

Ronit has given up her Orthodox upbringing but can’t give up being a Jew while Esti has married Dovid to be the good Jewish wife who wears a sheitel (wig) and teaches a class of Orthodox girls. Coming back home Ronit not only awakens the two women had for each other but it also brings up what they ‘owe’ religion and what religion ‘owes’ them if anything. In the middle is Dovid who loves his wife, wants to have the accepted Jewish family though his wife is having a problem with giving birth and feels protective of his cousin as the latter deals with rejection from most of the community except her fun-loving aunt (Bernice Stegers) who embraces her return even with her uncle (Alan Corduner) being remote.

There are a lot of subjects touched upon in “Disobedience” including religion, love, duty, freedom, choice, loss of a parent, ostracism among others which would make you think this would be a ‘talky’ movie but the lead actors can do more with silence and looks than words can. 

Talking about the actors both Rachel Weisz as Ronit and Rachel McAdams as Esti give excellent, very believable performances covering some of the mishaps of the director, Sebastion Lelio and screenwriters Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz. I was particularly surprised by the performance of Alessandro Nivola as Dovid as I don’t remember ever hearing of or seeing him before. I just looked his credits up and he has done a lot of theatre, movies andtelevision. He has instantly become an actor whose future movies I will definitely see.

There are many Jewish rituals and words that many in the audience won’t understand, including me, but none are necessary to the triangle we are watching and there are many different triangles between people, beliefs andthoughts. The film has an ‘open ending’ which has you thinking as you leave the theatre.

“Disobedience” is a movie about family, love, religion and how each affects us as individuals. It takes some thought as a viewer and it did bring me to tears at one point (but then I have been known to cry at Minnie & Mickey Mouse movies) plus if you are not familiar with Alessandro Nivola that would be reason enough to see it.

Movie trailer


*    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/pope-francis-tells-gay-man-god-made-you-like-this/ar-AAxyXr3

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