In ‘Disobedience’, a woman returns home after tragedy strikes the Orthodox Jewish community she was raised in. However, her return brings a childhood boiling back up to the surface.
Disobedience will trick you. At first glance the film appears to be a love story between two women, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. The catch? It’s actually an inspiring coming out story. I saw Disobedience at a pre-screening for the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was floored not only by the incredible story, but the performances both Rachel’s and their co-star, Alessandro Nivola, give us. But, lets start at the beginning.
When Disobedience begins we meet Ronnie, aka Ronit, portrayed by Weisz. She is a portrait photographer living her best life in New York when she gets a harrowing phone call: her father has died. Ronnie decides to return home and although this information hasn’t been provided to us, it’s clearly not an easy decision to make. We quickly learn why when she learns that her childhood friends, Dovid (Nivola) and Esti (McAdams), have married. As if that information wasn’t enough to surprise Ronnie, we’re also forced to watch as she is all but shunned by everyone in the community. Everything about her arrival and interaction with Dovid and Esti is uncomfortable. The discomfort is palpable as it reaches out from the screen and creeps it’s way into the audience.
Without spoiling too much of the story, things take a turn when Ronnie and Esti find themselves alone. The tension between them cracks when Ronnie asks Esti if she should return home, and Esti gives into her feelings for Ronnie. It starts slow, but before Ronnie and Esti realize it they are having a hot and heavy makeout session in her dead father’s home. Ronnie pulls the plug and tries to put a cap on things, but now it’s impossible. They eventually find themselves sneaking off for a long overdue afternoon of ecstasy in a hotel room. The sex is steamy, sure, but it also reveals the deep longing these two women have been hiding away for who knows how long. They are finally allowed to give in to their desires and feelings and it’s beautiful to watch.
This is when things slowly turn and you realize this story isn’t about Ronnie and it isn’t even about her relationship with Esti. It’s about Esti — a woman who has been hiding her true sexual preference for decades under the thumb of the community she was born into. Now that Ronnie is back in her life, despite the tragic circumstances, Esti finally realizes that it is possible for her to live the life she’s been day dreaming about since Ronnie left when they were girls. The question is: is she brave enough to do so?
Disobedience is a must-see. The film hits theaters on Friday, April 27.