In our modern, diverse culture, we often say that love is love is love. But we sometimes forget that there parts of this world where being who you are and having an open relationship with the one you love is not always easy or accepted.
In the 2006 book, Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman, Ronit left her insular Orthodox Jewish London community as a young woman. She has recently returned because of her father’s passing. But returning to the community that she once called home is not easy. Her cousin Dovid married their friend Esti. There are whispers around the community that Dovid is to take his uncle’s place as Rav. While Ronit is wrestling with her past and the death of her father, Dovid is thinking about his future. Esti is trying to be a good wife, as per the laws of Orthodox Judaism. But she is also in the closet and remembering her relationship with Ronit when they were girls.
Before I go any further with my review, I have to admit that I saw the movie before I read the book. That being said, seeing the movie gave me a new perspective on the book. While the movie is told from third person POV, the narrative in the book is told from a first person POV, jumping from Dovid to Ronit to Esti. While it’s not a clear-cut case of the book being better than the movie, I just feel like the narrative in the movie was cleaner and more powerful than the narrative in the book.
Do I recommend it? I’m leaning toward yes.
Disobedience is defined as failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority.
It is also the title of the novel by Naomi Alderman and the movie of the same time. Ronit (Rachel Weisz), Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) all grew up together in the same Orthodox Jewish community in North London. But Ronit left the community some years ago and has since found a new life in New York as a photographer. Then her father, who was a respected Rabbi dies and Ronit is forced to return home.
When they were teenagers, Ronit and Esti were together, but their relationship was not exactly welcomed by their friends and neighbors. While Ronit was living in New York, Dovid and Esti married. Their marriage appears to be solid, but when Ronit walks back into their lives, all three main characters must grapple with questions of not just sexuality, but also faith.
Disobedience is one of the best films of 2018, at least for the first half of 2018. The acting is solid and the narrative is perfect. In other films, with other screenwriters, Dovid would be the mustache twirling villain keeping the lovers apart. Ronit would be the hero who saves the day and the Esti would be “damsel in distress” caught between her marriage vows to Dovid and her love for Ronit. But in this film, all three characters are so real that I felt sympathy for all of them as they went on this journey.
I recommend it.
Disobedience is currently in theaters.