Movie Review: 'Disobedience'

John Thomas

The majority of people consider disobedience a bad thing that might result in an unfavorable outcome, or even incarceration and the loss of one’s freedom. In some cases, however, disobedience can be a good thing – it might provide a positive, unknown outcome to a situation and bring freedom to the disobedient.

Childhood friends, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) and Esti Kuperman (Rachel McAdams) grew up in a very closed, highly structured, extremely strict, obedient Jewish community in London, England. Because of their childhood attraction to one another, Ronit became an outcast within the community and eventually sought freedom by moving to New York City.

Notified of a recent and significant event in the community, Ronit returns to London unannounced. Her father, the community leader and most prominent Rabbi has just died and she has come back to attend his funeral and pay her respects. Her arrival does not exactly bring joy and happiness to the faces of those attending the ceremonies – why has she dared come, they wonder.

Since her departure to New York and a new life, her closest friend Esti has married David Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola) and the couple led their “community-required” obedient life. One obligation of their marriage is to make babies with Friday night the “baby-making” night, when both Esti and David remove all their clothes and trappings.

She pulls off her wig and removes her undergarments, which look more like a scuba-diver’s wetsuit than underwear, while he too removes his under things which strongly resemble kitchen towels and sheets fresh from the dryer. They perform the sex act with obedience and not much passion – if any.

The thrill of genuine passion does again flare up for Esti – of course not with David but with Ronit. David has suggested Ronit stay with them while she’s in London. The presence and close proximity of her former school-mate causes long past emotions and feelings between the two women to flourish again. Along with the passion comes the intoxicating sensation of freedom.

At the close of the funeral ceremonies, Ronit will return to her liberated life and career as a successful photographer in New York, where as Esti? Will she remain obediently in London or seek a new freedom for herself in another place?

This “see” film directed by Sebastian Lelio – with credits of Gloria and A Fantastic Woman – runs 114 minutes.


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