“Disobedience” was written and directed by Sebastian Lelio and stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola. The film is about a women who returns to her hometown following her father’s death after being disliked for past love, and how a past relationship with a woman starts again during her return.
After the successes of “Carol,” “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name,” I was very excited to see just what Lelio could do on a film about a lesbian relationship. Pair that with the star power of Weisz and McAdams and this seemed like a movie that could leave a major impact.
The performances are what drive this movie, and, more specifically, it is the dynamic between McAdams and Nivola was easily the most intriguing aspect of the entire film. McAdams gives a tremendous performance here, showing the right amount of passion and emotion throughout the movie.
Nivola’s performance was less expected, but he was outstanding next to the two lead women, standing out in some of the movie’s best scenes. Nivola gives a unique perspective, and becomes the most dynamic character in the film, and one that I appreciated the most by the end.
There are a handful of scenes that work well within the movie, specifically in powerful moments between the three leads. Lelio is able to nail down a certain level of tension and romance within these few scenes, but, sadly, isn’t able to stretch these moments out for an entire film.
For all the desires I had for “Disobedience” to break ground and to leave a strong emotional impact, it simply did not for me. This film just never hit consistently enough or strong enough to pack the punch that I was hoping to get.
This film starts off incredibly slow, and while sometimes this can lead to a nice slow burn that creates tension or drama, there was not enough payoff to forgive such a dull opening act. Yes, there are strong moments that I did appreciate, but for just how much the movie expects you to sit through, it felt lackluster in comparison.
Weisz gives a solid performance in the movie, but her character of Ronit was not nearly as interesting or as well-crafted as I had hoped. I often found her relationship with McAdams’ Esti to feel forced and uninteresting, and I never really grabbed on to the chemistry that they supposedly shared. Ronit specifically never captured my attention for any reason, and it really made the impact so much more miniscule than it should have been.
As I said, movies like “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name” have really made a dent in the LGBTQ romance genre, and “Disobedience” feels a bit like 2015’s “Carol,” but in a much, much lesser sense. For all the beauty, writing, direction, acting and true chemistry that “Carol” has, “Disobedience” severely lacks it, which was brutally disappointing to sit through from start to finish.
“Disobedience” is a well-acted film with strong intentions and a few great moments, but it still falls as a major disappointment. I expected to fall in love with this film and to be excited to talk about how groundbreaking it is, but instead it felt overly nuanced to the point of being boring. “Carol” is the significantly superior romance film, and even if subtlety was the point, “Disobedience” failed to make that interesting enough to get me invested.