There’s a lot in DISOBEDIENCE that reminds me of 2015’s CAROL. It’s very clear from the onset what kind of movie this is, but there’s a lot in this film that propels the content above the expectations of any viewer.I revisited my review of CAROL and noticed some parallels between these two, specifically the romance. In both cases, the romance that blossoms (or rekindles depending on how you’d like to interpret it) is natural and subtle. However what DISOBEDIENCE does different to elevate itself beyond CAROL is bringing religion into the equation.
Christianity is usually the punching bag for LGBT discrimination, but it’s easy to forget that certain sects of most Western religion continue to thumb their noses at the LGBT community. The attitudes are changing, albeit slowly, but there are still some hardliners that remain. In DISOBEDIENCE, Ronit Krushka (Weisz) deals with the prejudice of the Orthodox Jewish community. Her father, Rabbi Krushka, has recently passed away. Ronit, a New York photographer, quickly heads back to London where she’s greeted by silence and in some instances a room of cold stares.
She is warmly greeted by Rabbis Krushka’s successor, Dovid Kuperman (Nivalo) and his wife Esti (McAdams). While the silence given by strangers at the Kuperman household speaks volumes about what everyone thinks about Ronit, it’s a lot harder to decipher what exactly the grounds are like between Dovid, Esti and Ronit. They’re cordial, but reveal more about what lies beneath when they react in different manners towards slowly revealed details about the inner workings of each one’s life.
Where CAROL, from the onset, just keeps asking “will when they,” DISOBEDIENCE seems to ask an even more poignant question. It’s more than just the societal pressures keeping everything bottled up on multiple ends, it’s the expectations of one’s religion and how that religion has seeped its way into multiple facets of each one’s life. Even Dovid has his own trials and tribulations, so that we get a complete view of convictions in a rigid and archaic patriarchal structure. It’s like watching a threeway chess match where everyone is playing towards a stalemate.
DISOBEDIENCE might be everyone’s best work, although I admit I haven’t seen or remember much from Nivalo. McAdams and Weisz are the gems of the movie, wearing the human heart on their sleeves and faces in between dialogues. While it’s been a while since I’ve watched CAROL, the Rachels of this film are miles ahead of what audiences saw in 2015. A lot of their work, and what makes it believable, is thanks to a stellar script, based on a 2006 novel that I hope is equally just as beautiful.
While it draws in all these complex issues, it doesn’t necessarily resolve them in any meaningful way. It does sidestep the obvious ending, but it manages to settle on an ending that is far from profound. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and say it’s aiming for something that does stray into one of religion’s biggest virtues, but I have to give pause because it avoids the obvious path it could have taken towards expressing that specific virtue. Trust me; it’s still a good movie. A decade or so ago, DISOBEDIENCE would have been a quintessential LGBT-film like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. But we’ve come a long way and right now it remains as a potential runner-up.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) It’s a wonderfully shot movie, capturing dark and bright colors in scenes matching the cold shoulders and warm love.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) There was nothing wrong audio wise.