Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams star in Disobedience, director Sebastián Lelio’s (A Fantastic Woman) first English language film, set in an Orthodox Jewish community in North London.
The Production: 3/5
New York photographer Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) returns to the North London Jewish neighborhood that ostracized her years earlier when she learns of the death of her father, a prominent Rabbi. She first visits the home of one of her childhood friends and her father’s disciple, Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), who has married Ronit’s best friend, Esti (Rachel McAdams). Ronit just wants to pay her respects and possibly patch things up in the neighborhood, but is only greeted with open arms by Dovid and Esti, while her encounters with other family members and friends are met with tension. The marketing of Disobedience centers around a major spoiler, and that is the fact that Ronit was excommunicated by her family and synagogue after an illicit affair between her and Esti many years ago, and that flame has been rekindled with Ronit’s arrival.
The lesbian love affair is not the center of Disobedience, though (we learn early on that Roni may actually be bisexual). As director Sebastián Lelio (who also wrote the screenplay with Rebecca Lenkiewicz and is based on the novel by Naomi Alderman) slowly (and at times tediously) unfolds the layers of this story, at its heart is a thought-provoking exploration of religious dogma and free will, as the trio are forced to examine themselves and those around them, and the circumstances they are in. Performances are excellent, with the three stars fleshing out three-dimensional and believable characters. Where the movie really falters is in its pacing, often lingering on shots and montages which feel like padding, causing this two-hour film to feel like three.
3D Rating: NA
Disobedience was captured digitally on Red Dragon cameras in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Director of Photography Danny Cohen (Les Miserables) and director Sebastián Lelio purposefully desaturated the colors, giving the film a drab image full of browns and greys, and translates quite well in this 1080p AVC-encoded transfer. Black levels are consistently inky and deep, while providing good shadow detail. While the image is, overall, quite (and likely deliberately) soft, there is some nice fine detail in items such as fabric textures, facial features, and strands of hair.
Disobedience is a very dialogue-driven drama, and its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers clean, clear, and understandable dialogue throughout, spreading subtle atmospherics and Matthew Herbert’s score across the front soundstage and surrounds. It’s not a flashy track, nor does it need to be for a film of this type.
Special Features: 0.5/5
The disc contains no special features whatsoever, except for a Digital Copy insert code that can be redeemed on Movies Anywhere.
Disobedience is a tough movie to like or even enjoy, but it does pose some interesting questions. Video and Audio are very good, but the package lacks in special features. I would recommend renting before buying.