like Carol with matzohs instead of Martinis, this tale of a lesbian affair in a north London Orthodox Jewish community is another emotionally brave tale of forbidden love from Oscarwinner Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman).
Solemn and more sombre than his best work, but deeply felt nonetheless, it launches Rachel Weisz’s brittle outcast Ronit back into her rabbi father’s congregation from bohemian New York following his death. Prickly with resentment at her old neighbourhood’s hostility, Ronit’s defiance rekindles the ardour of her one-time lover Esti (Rachel McAdams), rocking the latter’s marriage to junior rabbi Dovid (a subtle, sympathetic Alessandro Nivola).
In a triangle of fine performances, McAdams’ raw and tender Esti is a revelation, her desire and religious devotion warring as fear gives way to snatched kisses. Lelio’s compassion for female outsiders is intact, but the faithversus-freedom arguments feel loaded. Likewise, the slow pace and grey visuals are uncharacteristically chilly – except for the sudden burn of a pointedly unvoyeuristic love scene. Outside the bedroom, this study of the cost of repression short-changes itself by keeping its hefty emotions under wraps, but it remains an elegant piece. Kate Stables
Weisz and McAdams sizzle as the plot fizzles in a restrained tale of unorthodox love in an Orthodox Jewish congregation.
Rachel Weisz’s Ronit and Rachel McAdams’ Esti steal a forbidden kiss.