Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's follow-up to A Fantastic Woman is the story of same-sex love within the Orthodox Jewish community, but it's a drab affair lacking passion and colour
After her father, a revered British Jewish Orthodox, dies, Ronit (Weisz) returns to the community from which she was ostracised. She's met with cold shoulders but is reluctantly welcomed to stay with two old, now married, friends – Dovid (Nivola) and Esti (McAdams). A love triangle begins as Ronit and Esti rekindle a previous relationship.
Disobedience moves slowly and without surprises. Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s filmography is full of women coming to terms with their sexuality, but other than one central sex scene, Disobedience’s lesbian lovers lack passion, and more frustratingly, they become increasingly passive. The emotional arc between Dovid and Esti is much more compelling.
The film's themes of restraint and discipline are reflected in Leilo's aesthetic choices. The visuals are as monotonous as the community depicted in the film. This is drab everyday suburban London; everything is concrete grey and dirt brown. It’s a disappointing follow-up to the visual magic of A Fantastic Woman, Leilo’s previous film, that used its aesthetics to convey its similarly oppressed protagonist’s interiority to much more convincing effect.