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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Disobedience (Blu-ray)
Disobedience (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // July 17, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $22.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted July 17, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The opening scene of Disobedience shows an old rabbi giving a sermon at an Orthodox synagogue. He talks about how Hashem (God) gave people free will, and it's our duty to sort out what's beastly behavior and which choices serve his will. In the middle of his speech, he suffers from a heart attack and dies, perhaps as a practical joke from God proving to him that some things are not in his control. The death propels the rabbi's only child, the secular photographer Ronit (Rachel Weisz), to come back to the closed-knit Orthodox community in London that she was once ostracized from in order to pay her respects and maybe posthumously patch up her vast differences with him.

For the first half of Disobedience, a solidly directed and written drama about the fight between religious dogma and free will, we don't directly find out why Ronit was kicked out of her community. Yet one quick look between her and her childhood friend Esti (Rachel McAdams), a devout member of the community who's married to a respected rabbi (Alessandro Nivola), clears things up. Their relationship, which is rekindled by Ronit's visit, is very easy for the audience to figure out, especially if they took a quick gander at the film's marketing materials. However, the mystery behind Ronit's past isn't the focal point of the film. It's not even really about the specific acts Ronit and Esti engage in, which, as graphic as they become, are never sensationalized for quick and easy titillation.

What Chilean director Sebastian Lelio, who also helmed last year's Best Foreign Language Oscar winner A Fantastic Woman, is the deep inner struggle that people of faith grapple between the dogma that their religion commands and their own desires to be faithful to their true selves in the corporeal world. Coming from an outsider's perspective, Lelio manages to bring a fairly respectful yet truthful take on such a fundamentalist sect. Is faith dependent on the community or the individual? I'm from a reform Jewish family that operates on the concept of "informed faith". Hell, the rabbi who officiated my wedding was a gay woman. Both sects are technically Jewish, yet they are light years apart in terms of practical application. So the free will sermon comes full circle and Ronit and Esti have to decide whether or not they should listen to their hearts, or their religious community.

The third act drops the ball a little bit, by presenting a conclusion that's idealistically sound and desirable, but practically a bit far fetched.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Since it takes place in an Orthodox community, the film is full of muted colors and a generally drab look that captures the characters' inner spirits. The 1080p transfer does a great job capturing that, with some healthy black levels.

Audio:

We get a DTS-HD 5.1 track but it might as well have been mono. It's a very dialogue-heavy movie, with long stretches of silence. When the score kicks in, we get some surround presence. However, the downmix on a regular TV is unbalanced, so keep your finger on the volume button if listening through TV speakers.

Extras:

We get nothing.

Final Thoughts:

Even though the ending is a bit weak, Disobedience generally works thanks to its even-handed and patient direction and palpable chemistry between the two leads.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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