“Disobedience” Is Too Good to Be Bad

When I saw A Fantastic Woman I was convinced that the Chilean director Sebastian Lelio knew his transgender heroine inside and out. Lelio obtained a performance from Daniela Vega that was raw and devastating and perhaps one of the great acting debuts ever.

Disobedience, a lesbian psychodrama romance set in an Orthodox Jewish community in North London, is Lelio’s follow up, and it is as stubbornly obedient as its title suggests it should be transgressive.

Rachel Weisz plays a self-exiled photographer returning to the closeted community upon which her now deceased father was the Reb. Rachel McAdams was the love she left behind, now uncomfortably and obediently married to the Reb heir apparent, and unsuccessfully only half heartedly trying to rekindle the flames of the desires she felt for Weisz’s’ character.

All this aching, praying and hidden lust is subsumed in the overall grayness of things. Every aspect of Disobedience is closeted. The film wants to be a tragedy but only stumbles to pathos, its passion and heartaches never becoming big enough or fully realized.

Disobedience is good at holding its breath. It forgets that the best tantrums must always end in a scream.

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