Disobedience (2017 film)
Disobedience is a 2017 romantic drama film directed by Sebastián Lelio and written by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman. The film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola. Set in North London, it tells the story of a woman who returns to the strict Orthodox Jewish community for her father's funeral after living in New York for many years, having been estranged from her father and ostracised by the community for a reason that becomes clearer as the story unfolds. The film was produced by Rachel Weisz, Ed Guiney, and Frida Torresblanco.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sebastián Lelio|
by Naomi Alderman
|Music by||Matthew Herbert|
|Edited by||Nathan Nugent|
|Box office||$7.9 million|
Disobedience had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2017. It was released in the United States on 27 April 2018, by Bleecker Street and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 30 November 2018, by Curzon Artificial Eye.
The film received positive reviews, with critics praising the performances of Weisz, McAdams, and Nivola, Lelio's direction, and the screenplay. It was nominated for the British Independent Film Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, and Dorian Awards for Best Picture.
The movie received different ratings in some countries. German rating company Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft has rated the movie FSK 0 (released without age restriction). United Kingdom rating company British Board of Film Classification has rated the movie 15 (for strong sex).
The old Rav Krushka succumbs to illness while delivering a sermon on free will to his Orthodox Jewish congregation in North London. Informed that her father has died, Ronit, the Rav's estranged daughter who lives and works in New York as a photographer, flies to London and arrives at the home of her childhood friend, Dovid Kuperman, a chosen disciple of her father.
At Dovid's house, other members of the congregation are paying their respects to the deceased. Ronit doesn't fit in, as she behaves in a manner not conforming to Orthodox culture. Despite appearing surprised by Ronit's visit, Dovid insists she stay with him. Ronit is upset to discover Esti, a childhood friend of both, is now Dovid's wife.
Ronit visits her uncle Moshe to discuss the disposition of her father's house, but finds out her father has left all of his possessions to the synagogue. She's only allowed in the house to retrieve her personal items. Esti accompanies her, and after the two women reminisce about their shared memories of the Rav's house, Esti tenderly kisses Ronit, who initially resists, then reciprocates. Esti confesses that she was the one who had Ronit notified about her father's death because she wanted to see her again.
Esti reveals that she's not happy with her life, which she has chosen based on the Rav's advice and her strong belief in "HaShem". After being caught in a romantic tryst that caused Ronit to leave the community, neither she nor Esti have been with other women. While Ronit is implied to be bisexual, Esti admits that she is a lesbian. On the way home, they stop at a nearby park, the site of their first kiss. They begin to kiss and fondle each other but are spotted by a couple from the congregation. Esti walks away unseen, but the couple identify Ronit and suspect that the other woman was Esti.
The next day, Esti, who works as a teacher at the local Jewish school, is called into the headmistress' office after the couple deliver a complaint about Esti and Ronit's behaviour. At the synagogue, Dovid is asked to take over the Rav's duties. He is warned about Ronit, but insists that he "keeps his house in order". Meanwhile, Ronit catches up with a shaken Esti, and tells her she is leaving the next day, without attending her father's hesped. The two of them sneak away to a hotel room in downtown London for an afternoon and evening of passionate sex.
Esti arrives home late and apologizes to Dovid, but refuses to engage in sex with him. The next morning, Dovid informs Esti that the couple had made a formal complaint to him, and Esti confesses she kissed Ronit, then leaves the house. Ronit is about to board her flight but she's called back by Dovid, who can't find Esti. Esti finally comes back home and reveals that she's pregnant but wants her freedom, to give the baby a chance to decide whether or not to be part of their community.
Ronit and Esti attend the Rav's hesped, which is to be given by Dovid in front of the entire congregation. Before the start, Ronit invites Esti to come live with her in New York. Dovid begins to speak but is visibly shaken and unable to follow his prepared text. Instead, he continues the sermon the Rav was delivering when he died. During the speech, under the guise of addressing the congregation, he releases Esti from their marriage, then publicly turns down the offer of becoming the congregation's new spiritual guide. Esti finds him outside and they embrace; Dovid motions for Ronit to join in their embrace, finally reconciling their old friendship.
The next morning, Dovid awakens alone in his bedroom. Esti has slept downstairs on the couch. Ronit is ready to fly back to New York. When her taxi arrives, she says her goodbyes, wishing Dovid and Esti each a "long and happy life". As Ronit's cab is driving away, Esti runs out of the house, chasing after her; she gives Ronit a final kiss and they promise to keep in touch once Esti has decided where she'll live. Ronit makes a detour to her father's grave to bid him a final goodbye.
- Rachel Weisz as Ronit Krushka
- Rachel McAdams as Esti Kuperman
- Alessandro Nivola as Dovid Kuperman
- Bernardo Santos and Jonathan Schey as Young Dovid
- Anton Lesser as Rav Krushka
- Bernice Stegers as Fruma Hartog
- Allan Corduner as Moshe Hartog
- Nicholas Woodeson as Rabbi Goldfarb
- Liza Sadovy as Rebbetzin Goldfarb
- Clara Francis as Hinda
- Mark Stobbart as Lev
- Caroline Gruber as Hannah Shapiro
- Alexis Zegerman as Rivka
On 29 September 2016, it was reported that Rachel Weisz was set to produce and star in an adaptation of the Naomi Alderman novel Disobedience; with Ed Guiney and Frida Torresblanco as co-producers, and Sebastián Lelio directing from a script by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz. On 4 October 2016, Rachel McAdams joined the cast, followed by Alessandro Nivola as McAdams's husband on 7 December 2016. The film was co-financed by Film4 Productions and FilmNation Entertainment. Matthew Herbert joined the production to compose the film score.
In May 2017, Curzon Artificial Eye acquired U.K. distribution rights from FilmNation Entertainment, and international distribution rights were acquired by Roadshow (Australia), Mars Films (France), Cinema SRL (Italy), Lev Films (Israel), Pathé (Switzerland), and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions for various territories. Bleecker Street acquired the U.S. distribution rights in September 2017, and Mongrel Media acquired the rights for Canada.
Disobedience had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2017. The film premiered in the United States at the Tribeca Film Festival in the Spotlight Narrative section on 24 April 2018. The film was released theatrically in the U.S. as a limited release on 27 April 2018, in Australia on 14 June and on 30 November in the United Kingdom.
Disobedience grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $7.8 million.
The film debuted in five theaters in New York City and Los Angeles and made $241,276 in its opening weekend (a per-venue average of $48k), ranking as the fourth-best opening average for the year to that point, after Isle Of Dogs ($60k), Avengers: Infinity War ($55k) and Black Panther ($50k).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 184 reviews, and an average rating of 7.2/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Disobedience explores a variety of thought-provoking themes, bolstered by gripping work from leads Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Andrew Barker of Variety gave the film a positive review, writing that Disobedience "may not catapult Lelio beyond the arthouse world, but it's yet another triumph in what's shaping up to be a major career." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter also gave the film a positive review writing, "Beautifully acted by Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola as the three points of a melancholy romantic triangle, this is a deeply felt drama that exerts a powerful grip."
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, describing it as "a gorgeously acted, written and directed spellbinder ... that never preaches or judges. Without dialogue, Lelio creates a whole world that can be read eloquently and movingly on the faces of two superb actresses who give unstintingly to its creation."
David Ehrlich from IndieWire praised the importance of the subject, the outstanding acting and good direction, saying: "A fraught and emotionally nuanced love story about the tension between the life we’re born into and the one we want for ourselves.... Both Weisz and McAdams do a phenomenal job of negotiating who their characters are versus who their characters feel as though they have to be.... Lelio builds to a beautiful and powerfully ambiguous moment that brings all the major characters together."
Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian praised the performances, direction, and score saying, "Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola are at the top of their game.... The drama is expertly controlled by Lelio, lit and shot in muted and subdued colour tones by cinematographer Danny Cohen and it has a very interesting musical score by Matthew Herbert.... This is richly satisfying and powerfully acted work."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient/nominee||Result||Ref|
|British Independent Film Awards||2 December 2018||Best British Independent Film||Sebastián Lelio, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Frida Torresblanco, Ed Guiney, Rachel Weisz||Nominated|||
|Best Screenplay||Sebastián Lelio / Rebecca Lenkiewicz||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Rachel Weisz||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Alessandro Nivola||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||Rachel McAdams||Nominated|
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