Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lesbian Film Review: Disobedience

**Warning! This review contains some spoilers!**

This weekend I was lucky enough to get to go see Disobedience, the new forbidden lesbian love movie starring Rachel McAdams and Rachel Wiesz. It was playing as part of the "Magnolia at the Modern" film series at The Modern Museum in Fort Worth.

If you're unfamiliar with the premise, here's what it's about in a nutshell (taken from the blurb on The Modern's website):

"A photographer (Rachel Weisz) returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for her childhood attraction to a female friend (Rachel McAdams). Their reunion soon reignites their passion as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality."

The first thing that struck me as noticeable about this film was its dark, bleak tone. Rachel Wiesz's character, Ronit, receives notice that her father, a prominent religious figure in her Jewish home community, has died. She returns home to a mostly cold reception by her estranged family and friends. It quickly becomes painfully obvious that she was cast out, and as the film progresses, we discover it was due to a scandal involving Rachel McAdam's character, Esti. 

Fitting with the bleak tone are the colors of the film, or rather lack of colors. The director used neutrals both in setting and in costumes. Except for a few select scenes, it sticks with this colorless palette, but the scenes that do have splashes of color are those in which the Ronit and esti connect in a fiery way. Even the simple act of sharing a cigarette brings a little burst of literal and symbolic flame to the scene, and the two actresses pull it off so that it's effectively erotic. There are nice little artistic touch here and there like this throughout the movie.

As one would expect, it doesn't take too long for Ronit and Esti's total re-connection to happen, and boy does it happen, and on a deep, soulful level. Their performances are exquisite. I didn't just witness it distantly on screen; I could actually feel the passion between them. It was the kind of desire that we can only hope to experience in our short lives - that reckless sort of love that transcends all logic. But along with feeling their love comes a foreboding tension. Esti is married now, and so the two women must hide this rekindling of their affair. I was terrified from the get-go that they would get caught, which made a lot of the film uncomfortable for me.

We do get to experience a hell of a love scene though... Oh, that love scene! What a gorgeous, erotic physical consummation of these two women, who clearly desire one another above any other thing in the universe, and you can absolutely feel it. This moment in the film is also an amusing foil to a previous love scene between Esti and her husband, which clearly was just rote, passionless duty for her.

I won't give away the details of the ending, but I will say that I have mixed feelings about it. I both liked and disliked how things wrapped up. There was one powerful moment in particular, involving Esti's husband, Dovid, played by Allesandro Nivola, that brought me to tears. He, like the two leading women, gave Oscar-worthy performances in this film. This movie will leave you thinking about its characters long after you leave the theater.

Finally, I want to mention the soundtrack. It's a haunting, beautiful piece of work. It fits the forbidden love theme very well. 

If you get a chance to go see Disobedience, do so. It is a highly emotional, sometimes uncomfortably tense, yet ultimately powerful love story that I think will definitely get some attention during awards season. 

Thanks for reading!



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Monday, June 11, 2018

Good Relationships Need Good Soil

((Original post from June 2018 now with a new Oct. 2018 update at the bottom))

I've heard it said that relationships are like flowers.

Flowers need the right amount of sun and water in order to grow. Relationships similarly need love and attention in order to grow. But they also don't need too much sun or water. Otherwise, they wither and die.

I've seen troubled relationships transform into beautiful bonds when people simply pay more attention to each other and give one another the perfect amount of both space and care.

But what about the flowers that get the right amount of sun and water, and they still die?

What about those relationships in which we feel we've done everything right, but things still feel so wrong?

Perhaps it's just bad soil...

I've been living in my current house for the past 5 or so years, and I have had the worst time getting anything I plant to grow in the flowerbeds out back. Weeds grow, but I don't want weeds! I've tried planting all kinds of things I desire: hostas, zinnias, herbs of all kinds, even succulents. Nothing stays alive! I've had to plant things in separate planters with store-bought soil in order to grow anything. And it took me about 5 years to realize that it wasn't me -- I wasn't the one messing up. I wasn't the terrible gardener; I'd been doing everything right.

It was just bad soil.

And this realization also hit me. Relationships also need good soil in order for growth to happen. Sometimes, no matter what we do, certain relationships are just not going to work. It doesn't matter how much we love them or how much attention or space we give them. The flowers will always die. And it's not due to any fault of our own. Sometimes the other person simply doesn't have the fertile ground, or the foundation, for a healthy relationship to even take place. So what do you do?

You take all the wonderful things you have to offer another person, and you find better soil!


Update, Oct. 29, 2018:

Since I have published the original above post, a funny thing has happened.

I planted my Rosemary months and months ago, and I didn't see growth. I'd planted it in the same soil that I'd planted the other plants, which didn't seem to be able to grow; however, rather than pull it up like I'd done the obviously-dead plants, I decided to simply leave it alone.

Then, the unlikely occurred...

It started to grow.

I'd given up on it, and it actually started to grow.

Watching this surprising turn of events made me think of those rare but special relationships that we have with certain people that are different from the rest. Sometimes in the most intense relationships, we have to give them up for a while. We have to do the most difficult thing and Let Go.

There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the timing for a relationship isn't right. Sometimes we need to separate to create space to do some inner work and mature as people in order to be more compatible. Whatever the reason, letting go is the magic ingredient. It takes courage. Sometimes you even believe that it's hopeless, and you have to, so that you can move on and hit the "reset" button and get on with what you need to do in your life.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that relationship is truly over yet...