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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