Rated: R for some strong sexuality. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 27, 2018 Released by: Bleecker Street Media
Chile's Sebastian Leilo (Gloria, A Fantastic Woman) takes an equivocal, if provocative look at faith and sexuality in a London Orthodox Jewish community.
His (first English-language feature) "Disobedience" stars Rachel Weisz (Mrs. Daniel Craig), Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola (Coco Before Chanel, A Most Violent Year), and percipient patrons may agree that their work here often transcend what may be deemed questionable by decisions and motivations of one of their characters.
On a shoot in the Big Apple, Weisz's secular lensing professional Ronit learns of her estranged highly respected rabbi father's passing and has apprehension about the homecoming. She senses the collective displeasure of her choices which includes McAdams Esti who's been a devoted missus to Nivola's Dovid. Dovid happens to be her father's protégé, the next in the line of rabbis. Both are past close friends of Ronit with Esti having shared an intimate bond as a teenager. In time old feelings can't help but be rekindled.
So, an intriguing love triangle is staged by Leilo pivoting on the struggles of the two women vacillating between obligation and impulse, defiance and showing deference. A pat rendering of thorny issues ably expressed still doesn't mean that the dynamic isn't quite often intriguing as a notable sequence may be misconstrued considering its steamy nature.
Oscar-winner Weisz (The Lobster, Denial, My Name Is Rachel), McAdams (Game Night, Doctor Strange, Passion), and Nivola work so well off the discomfiting peeling layers off their characters; the latter two being more unforeseen in their emotional output which somewhat hinges on clemency. And, in McAdams's case, the representation has a distinctive gutsy quality about it. The concentration of Leilo in Disobedience on distaff challenging of societal standards is riveting enough to counter a willful narrative. As the rabbi's words about free will early on are more than suggestive.