By Megan Bianco
By now we can easily say same-sex romances can find success in commercial film. It’s been 13 years since Brokeback Mountain became a smash with two of the biggest heartthrobs in Hollywood playing lovers. It’s been 30 years since My Beautiful Launderette and Maurice. Bound (1996), Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) and Carol (2015) are a few successful lesbian tales. Call Me By Your Name was a big hit last Oscar season. Now, Sebastián Lelio releases his adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s Disobedience.
Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) returns to her family’s neighborhood in a strict, traditional Jewish community in Hendon, England when her father, the local rabbi, suddenly dies. She’s spent the past few years in New York as a photographer after being shunned out of the community for a past lesbian affair. Now, Ronit’s back to discover that her cousin and father’s successor, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) is married to her ex, Esti (Rachel McAdams).
So what does Disobedience bring to the oppressed lesbian theme that so many indie movies haven’t already? Well, the Jewish setting is pretty interesting and unique, instead of the Christian background we’ve seen in fiction before. The tormented romance itself isn’t really anything new or groundbreaking. Lelio, who also recently had success with A Fantastic Woman (2017) as a LGBTQ film, directs the film as a typical melodrama. This mostly reflects in the performances, particularly by Weisz who spends the whole film with a frown on her face. Fortunately, Disobedience does have a semi-happy ending in a subgenre where tragic conclusions have become cliché.