Disobedience (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Drama, romance
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: 109 minutes

Disobedience (DVD) – Movie Review

Site Score
Good: Acting, delicate themes,
Bad: Not a great end
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(4 votes)
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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Disobedience is a romantic drama movie based on the novel by the same name, written by Naomi Alderman. It’s produced by Sebastián Lelio, who also directed the Acadamy Award winning A Fantastic Woman. This is Lelio’s first attempt at an English-language movie. Its world premiere took place at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, receiving positive reactions.

In this romantic drama movie, Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns to her Orthodox Jewish community in North London for her father’s funeral after having lived in New York for quite a few years. She was shunned by her father and the community because of her attraction to a female childhood friend. Returning to the community, she is reunited with, not only her friend Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), but also with her friend Esti (Rachel McAdams). Now that the two of them meet again, their passion reignites as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

The movie starts with Ronit’s father (Anton Lesser), a rabbi, giving a speech during which he collapses. After this we immediately get a comparison with Ronit’s life in New York, where she is a photographer. After this, the movie takes on a perfect pace. It takes a while for the viewer to realize what the connection between the different characters is, since this isn’t pointed out exactly. It’s only after a few conversations take place, that we find out how our main characters were connected in the past.

While the romance between Ronit and Esti blooms again slowly, the viewers are confronted with many controversial themes. The institution of marriage is questioned by showing two different worlds in the shape of two different people, growing from one and the same place. There’s also the tradition for women to have children that is questioned, even though we feel like this wasn’t really brought to life enough. It was mentioned, played out a little and got stuck somewhere.

Of course, there is the main theme; the sexual relationship between two women. In the strict Orthodox Jewish community that is depicted, this is not done. We see a woman struggling with this hard reality. The difference between Esti and her husband and Etsi and Ronit is quite obviously shown in many ways. When she’s with her husband, the relationship seems distant and responsible. It’s not until she’s with Ronit that we see a passionate relationship where Esti blooms, both emotionally and sexually. She quickly starts feeling small again because of her faith, and thus the entire community that surrounds her.

The movie doesn’t use a giant dialogue, and it doesn’t need one either. While sometimes barely any words are said, the feelings and emotions of the characters become perfectly clear. By the use of looks, touches, movements and settings, we can feel what the movie intended us to feel. There’s also the use of a rather grey and dull kind of cinematography. We don’t see any vivid colours during the entire movie. This helps present the strict and traditional community where the story takes place. It also helps create the dramatic feeling the movie is aiming for. We did miss a good ending. It felt as if there was no inspiration left so the story was just left open-ended.

The performances of both women are excellent. While both characters contrast each other, they’re executed in a great way. Rachel Weisz, who we already know as an Academy Award winner, plays a great rebellious woman who got away from the strict community. Rachel McAdams, known best for her roles in The Notebook, Mean Girls and The Vow, portrays a woman struggling with herself, stuck in her marriage. The chemistry between both women on screen is fascinating and enjoyable to watch. Not one scene felt forced and they both gave us an interesting romance to watch unfold. Besides the Rachels’, there’s our third main character Dovid, played by Alessandro Nivola. His performance is also superb. He tackles the role of a Jewish man struggling more on the inside really well. We were glad to see him star beside Weisz and McAdams.

The DVD edition of Disobedience doesn’t come with any special features. Even though adding some extras wasn’t necessary, it would’ve been nice. Because Weisz and McAdams had such a great chemistry during the movie, some behind the scenes footage would have been interesting to watch. However, we do understand there are no extras, since this is a movie that premiered at a Film Festival and not a Hollywood comedy production.


If you think Disobedience is just another movie where two lesbians can’t be together, involving some sex scenes, you’re wrong. The movie gives us a deeper look into an Orthodox Jewish community, touching several delicate subjects with the biggest and most straightforward one being homosexuality. It’s an enjoyable movie to watch and might even linger around in your mind after finishing it. And above all, the performances of all three leading roles are excellent.

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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Disobedience (DVD) - Movie Review, 7.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Maui Vindevogel

23 year old based in Belgium with a passion for writing

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