A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disobedience is an intelligent, nuanced drama based on Naomi Alderman's novel about how two women's lives and relationship are affected by the insular Jewish community in which they were raised. There are several sex scenes: Women have sex with men, with moaning and thrusting (as well as partial nudity), and there's also a passionate, rather explicit sex scene between the two central women (there's more partial nudity, plus kissing, licking, touching, and more). A minor but important character collapses and dies, and there's yelling/arguing; a man also angrily grabs his wife during an argument. Language is infrequent but includes at least one use each of "f--k" and "s--t." A main character smokes cigarettes, a character drinks a glass of whiskey, and there's social drinking and a brief discussion of drugs. The movie's themes are quite mature, and it's very much meant for adults. Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola co-star.
What's the story?
In DISOBEDIENCE, Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) is working as a photographer in New York City when she receives a message that her father, a beloved and respected Orthodox rabbi in London, has died. She travels there, only to receive a confused and lukewarm greeting from her old friend, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), who has been the rabbi's protege and is now being considered as his successor. Also surprised to see Ronit is Esti (Rachel McAdams), another childhood friend; for her part, Ronit is shocked to learn that Dovid and Esti are married. Ronit is further dismayed by her father's obituary, which says that he was "childless," and by the news that she hasn't inherited her family's house. As she mourns and tries to reconcile her troubled relationship with her father, a long-buried connection between Ronit and Esti rekindles; could this have been the reason that Ronit left home in the first place?
Is it any good?
With an intuitive insight into women's survival instincts, Chilean director Sebastian Lelio builds a powerful portrait of a secret, struggling relationship, fleshed out by two fine performances. Lelio makes his English-language debut with Disobedience, which is based on the novel by Naomi Alderman. As with Lelio's two previous movies -- Gloria and the Oscar-winning Best Foreign Language Film A Fantastic Woman -- this film depicts a complex diorama of pain and longing, a yearning for acceptance but also a bracing for loneliness. Lelio has a sure touch for performance as well as for composition and tone, and the result is an intelligent, emotionally true movie that never steps wrong.
Weisz gives one of her finest performances as the deeply flawed Ronit, who perhaps hoped to have things both ways and is dismayed that her choices may have led to heartbreak. She's not entirely sympathetic, even if her feelings are totally understandable. McAdams is also superb as a woman who escaped in a different way, into the stability of a marriage she doesn't have her whole heart in, simply because she didn't have anywhere else to go. Separately, Esti and Ronit inhabit a chilly, overcast world of houses and rooms and rituals, wandering through in medium-wide shots. But their moments together, of release and confession, are close-up and intimate, as well as breathtaking and profound.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Disobedience portrays sex. How are the scenes between Esti and Ronit and their male partners different from the one when they're together? What does sex mean to these characters? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How is Esti and Ronit's relationship depicted? Is it multidimensional, or is it stereotypical? Are the women sympathetic? Are they role models? Why or why not?
Does the movie treat Judaism with respect? Ridicule? Does it seem realistic? Can you think of other movies that portray insular communities in a similar way? A different one?
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