Chilean director Sebastián Lelio caught the imagination of cinema-goers and critics alike with his masterfully captured and timely feature A Fantastic Woman – starring Daniela Vega as a transgender woman left fighting for her dignity, identity and innocence after the death of her partner – with the picture winning Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
As with the filmmaker’s preceding release Gloria, for his next contribution to the big-screen Lelio carves out another study of a woman on the margins battling for acceptance and to love as she wishes, this time in the form of Disobedience – based on the novel by Naomi Alderman.
The quietly beautiful and emotive picture explores forbidden love in London’s Orthodox Jewish community with an almost balletic threeway performance from Rachel Weisz (who precipitated the project by acquiring rights for the book), Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola. A dull “frum” palette contrasts exquisitely with latent passion, and meticulous attention is paid to the representation of this particular community’s culture and practices, which ultimately form only a backdrop to the universal tale of the desire to find and be permitted to love.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nivola and Oscar-winning director Lelio to discuss what inspired the story; the research and preparation needed to accurately portray the London Orthodox community with such authenticity; working with two actresses phenomenal in their own right and electric when paired together; and what they hope audiences will take away from the film.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 1st December 2019.
Disobedience was released nationwide on 30th November 2018. Read our review here.