Ray's Review: Disobedience


Rating: C-

LGBT movies are becoming more and more mainstream and the most recent addition, Disobedience, has had film festival audiences buzzing about the new film that is packing some major star power. Rachel Weisz plays Ronit, a woman who is returning to her tight-knit Jewish community after the passing of her father. Ronit struggles with her return since she was shunned her community years ago after having been caught in a relationship with a female friend named, Esti (Rachel McAdams). As she returns home and sees that the girl she loved so long ago is now married to their best friend growing up Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and that the traditions she ran away from for freedom so long ago are still alive and well and just as strict as ever.She also realizes her feelings for Esti are still very much there and as the two start to reconnect they must they will have to push the boundaries of their faith and their sexuality to their limits. 

I need to start off saying that I have been looking forward to this film for a while now. After hearing so many good things about the movie I couldn't wait to see what writer/director Sebastian Lelio had in store for us and the fact that there are major actresses who got on board for this film was pretty awesome in the movement of making LGBT films more mainstream. However, over the past couple of weeks, all news sites have seemed to focus on was the inevitable sex scene between our two leads comparing it on par with the one in Blue Is The Warmest Color. If you haven't seen that film, just know that it is explicit AF and definitely directed by a dude, if you know what I mean. Disobedience was getting buzz for being a better, but just as an intense version of that level of a sex scene, which was surprising, but okay. For me, I was really curious to see how the relationship between the two played out and the conflict with the very strict religion they would be going against in pursuing this.  What I got was not at all what I had expected or hoped for. 

I feel like the acting talents of our leads may have been wasted a bit in this film. Not because they are bad, but because the story didn't give them room to really be these characters. To really flush out the emotions that are missing from the film. Ronit shows up and while Esti and her notice each other, you would think there would have been more emotion having seen the girl you have been pining for after zero contact for so many years and there is just not really any. As a matter of fact, when the two finally do get together, I am not even sure why they are doing it. Ronit feels cold an distant and Esti's character doesn't even seem to show any feelings toward Ronit until she pounces on her to kiss her in one scene. The film has plenty of opportunities as we build to this first kiss to show us the longing these two claim to feel for each other, but their words feel flat and empty and just don't seem to match up with their actions.  By the time we get around to this elusive sex scene we have been hearing so much about it just feels kind of meh...Not to mention for a lesbian sex scene, there is 100% too much spitting. Like, WTF is that about?! Gay, straight, whatever, why the spitting??? I need someone to explain that one to me, just watch and you'll see. 

The story here needed more time to flesh out its characters and really could have been something intense and eye-opening, but for me, I feel like it falls short of its purpose. The desire and longing between our two leads are just not there most of the time and even the struggle with religion is also not really there except for Dovid, Esti's husband, aka our resident third wheel in this film. His character often times feels like a weird afterthought. So, in summary, we have Ronit who doesn't really seem that attached to anything. Esti who is sort of in love with Ronit because that is the only girl she has ever had a chance with, but who goes through the motions with her husband because of her faith, and Dovid who keeps pretending to turn a blind eye until he can't anymore. I understand labeling this film as a drama, but I think calling it a romance is a bit of a stretch.  We scored this one with a C-. If you are looking for good LGBT cinema there are just way too many other good offerings you could choose from. Maybe wait for this to hit streaming services before you dive right into Disobedience

Disobedience opens May 11th. 

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