The climax is thrilling and unpredictable, and that does suggest a level of confidence that the drama doesn’t always show
Set in London’s Jewish community, Disobedience has a tight grip on both its characters and its setting, possessing a particularly authentic style, and a love for accuracy and simplicity. However, Disobedience is a complicated family drama with love and choice resonating strongly from its constant messages, and that means its focus is concentrated wholly on its characters; characters who are formed not quite as completely as they needed to be.
Ronit (Rachel Weisz), completely separated from her childhood since emigrating to New York, is contacted by an old friend with the news of her father’s death. Returning to London as quickly as possible, Ronit is housed by two of her former school friends, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams), who have married in her absence. As the preparations for the funeral ramp in size and stature, old passions flare up, causing controversy and lust in equal measure.
Centralising around the focal love triangle, there is a strong pull from each of the lives reliant on the core relationship. But by being so reliant, there needs to be an equality and a level of support for their case to result in it feeling as a viable romance. Ronit, arriving after so many years of exile, needed an incredibly strong reasoning to win over any opposers, or at least to offer up her own argument. Disobedience doesn’t supply that, and it leaves the love of Dovid for Esti seeming, albeit weaker, far more realistic. It’s an incredibly tough set of feelings to visualise, and it hasn’t quite been created in the way it needed to be.
Rachel McAdams is wonderful as she shows an inner tear between following her passion and remaining not just with what she knows, but what as given her joy for so long. She succeeds in explaining her confusion whilst holding her dignity and obsessing over limiting its impact on her wider life. Esti is by far the best written character, and that shines through McAdams’ performance.
Ultimately flawed, Disobedience is still a respectable drama with incredibly sensual moments and a real understanding of its community. The climax is thrilling and unpredictable, and that does suggest a level of confidence that the drama doesn’t always show. Disobedience is as much about the hidden choices in life, as it is about those vocal and overbearing, and through the drama somewhat lets that message blur, the film still makes its point nonetheless.
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