Director sebastián lelio once more pits determined women against the world with latest movie Disobedience
Sebastián Lelio won an oscar in March for A Fantastic Woman, a devastating battle cry about a trans woman’s unjust treatment. a sumptuously shot piece of work, it is worlds away from his new one. Disobedience, which follows new Yorker Ronit (Rachel weisz) as she returns home to her north London orthodox Jewish community, possesses a stifling suburban drabness.
Yet Lelio’s stories have much in common. in Disobedience, Ronit rekindles a forbidden passion with ultra-religious friend esti (Rachel Mcadams), and things, as you might imagine, don’t go smoothly. “these two films, and Gloria,” says Lelio of his 2013 drama, “take characters on the fringes of mainstream representation, and take them to the absolute centre, creating these hopefully complex portraits of women that are going through the entire emotional spectrum. they’re willing to pay a price to become who they are.”
in Disobedience, years of repression pay off when Ronit and esti hit the bedroom — the sex scene is the centrepiece. “it’s the heart of the film,” says Lelio. “it needed the screentime: a good five minutes of passion.” the result is an almost metaphysical eruption: graphic yet not pornographic, the focus on the faces. “we are living in a moment of human history where we are over-exposed to sex,” Lelio explains. “we can see everything, so we don’t need to imagine anymore. So i forced the spectator to complete what is not being shown with his or her own fantasies. what can be stronger than that?” it is anything but drab. disobedience is in cinemas from 30 november
empire met sebastián lelio in a drab london boardroom on 7 June. Forbidden lovers Ronit (Rachel Weisz) and Esti (Rachel Mcadams). Below: Esti with husband Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). Bottom: Ronit in a contemplative mood.