Monday, 23 July 2018

Disobedience: NZIFF Review

Disobedience: NZIFF Review


For all the theology opening and the deep soaking of Jewish tradition in Disobedience, it has to be said there's scant depth to what Disobedience unspools in terms of character.

Rachel Weisz is Ronit, the black sheep of the Jewish family whose return is necessitated by the death of her father. But many are unhappy to see her back in England's drab and dreariness including Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and his new wife Esti (Rachel McAdams).

But Ronit's return rekindles something in Esti - and soon the perils of the outsider are thrust deep within the community, threatening to reignite both old passions and even deeper hatreds.
Disobedience: NZIFF Review

Drab, dreary backgrounds pepper the dour proceedings to start off with - London's backdrops stultify and threaten to overcome Ronit's natural incandescences, a woman who threw off the shackles of tradition to the disappointment of all around her.

Certainly, the hints are laid early on, in some naturalistic dialogue that drops emotional bombs later on as the intense recoupling rebirths.

Director Sebastien Lelio gives life to the struggles of the outsider, but Disobedience rarely feels more than a chamber piece between Esti and Ronit; and with the third wheel of Dovid thrown in for good measure. It lives and breathes like a play, as it piles up small emotional stakes building them into greater barriers as time goes on.

Largely restrained, Disobedience benefits from tasteful touches, and passionate clinches - even if occasionally, they feel borderline to voyeuristic, something which in truth is more the fault of an audience investment in the outcasts storyline. The sense of longing, the sense of connection and the sense of duty all swirl in one potent mix, and while Disobedience's palette is one of dour dismal skylines, what bubbles beneath is fiery and difficult to quell.

But Disobedience never fully breaks out to rage against the patriarchal society, the Jewish clasp thrown down upon these women - it's a frustration muted into a quiet scream as events transpire, and while the film is perfectly adequately explored and extolled, it never once finds the emotion to send it soaring high and beyond - despite the threesome offering some truly strong performances.

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