Sharing its DNA with the similarly impactful drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Disobedience continues a trend for tasteful explorations of LGBTQ love stories. Ronit is a photographer in
The film is powered by a trio of performance that make up the love triangle at its core. Rachel Weisz (who really is terrific in a host of British dramas, starting with 2016's much underappreciated Denial) gives a performance that bubbles softly with rage, with Ronit never fully expressing the pain her father caused by his rejection. The most impulsive of the central trio, her performance perfectly encapsulated the detachment and ostracism Ronit feels from the community she returns to. If initially Rachel McAdams' performance feels underplayed, it blossoms into a touching portrayal of desire suppressed, as Esti becomes the emotional centre for the film's second half. There is ample chemistry between her and Weisz, fully displayed in Disobedience's strongest scenes. Alessandro Nivola (who won Best Supporting Actor at last night's BIFA awards) has perhaps the trickiest task of the triptych, representing, as he does, the oppressive system Ronit and Esti find themselves constrained by. It is a subtle performance, constructed of small moments that manage to keep audiences' sympathies for the most part.
Sebastián Lelio's film follows A Fantastic Woman in a powerful exploration of identity within an unforgiving community. Where the former explored trans life within Columbian society, here the topic is lesbianism with an Orthodox Jewish community. Both films feel like fascinating explorations that offer multiple sides to a complicated topic. Lelio is a director who rewards his viewers as he builds an increasingly intricate picture. If Disobedience feels more muted than his previous film, it feels in keeping with the community it is portraying, with this all building to a finale that would not have been as impactful has we not first had we not first gotten to know the setting so well.
Disobedience is a rewarding, quiet drama, focusing on an intimate story that in another director's hands may have felt underpowered. Here Lelio continues to set himself out as one of the most interesting directors currently working. Disobedience particularly stands out as an acting masterclass from Weisz, McAdams and Nivola. Sometimes the subtlest of tales prove the most rewarding.