“Disobedience” 2017 TIFF Reviews Round-Up

After the world premiere screening of “Disobedience“, the first reviews are slowly getting released. We will round-up the reviews in this post as they are getting released. We will especially highlight the reviews focusing on Rachel’s performance. It’s too early to tell right now what the general consensus is, but the performances and in particular Rachel’s performance has received praise after the initial reactions. With The Guardian critic calling Rachel’s work “excellent” and Roger Ebert’s critic calling it “some of [her] best work”. Be sure to check back later, because we expect more reviews getting released throughout the day/week. The movie currently holds a 100% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes (with 10 reviews) and a 81 score at Meta Critics.

“McAdams does some of the best work of her career as Esti, the true instigator of this relationship (she is the only who hasn’t refused contact with Ronit) and the one who won’t give up on it. McAdams has been an underrated performer for years, and it’s nice to see her get a challenging role here. She’s easily the best thing about the movie. I wish the rest of the movie felt as fully realized as her performance because, like the relationship at its center, there’s potential here for something beautiful that feels just out of reach.”
Brian Tallerico, RoberEbert.com

4/5 Stars
“Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola are at the top of their game. Ronit is disturbed most by two friends from the old dayshe other is Esti, beautifully played by Rachel McAdams, who was Ronit’s only ally in youthful rebelliousness back in the day. McAdams herself is excellent at suggesting how with sheer force of will and learned piety she had got her life together while Ronit was away and is now a schoolteacher. We see her leading a class in discussing Shakespeare’s Othello. The choice of play interestingly leads the audience to wonder how Dovid is going to take the news of his wife’s adventure. The drama is expertly controlled by Lelio, lit and shot in muted and subdued colour tones by cinematographer Danny Cohen and it has a very interesting musical score by Matthew Herbert; its musing and almost playful woodwind figures cut against the expected sombreness and obvious melancholy to contribute to this sense of disorientation and subversion. This is richly satisfying and powerfully acted work.”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Leilo’s unassuming style serves the story and provides a great showcase for both performers. McAdams captures a sense of someone gradually daring herself to speak out for what she truly wants. Disobedience is a serious-minded, almost austere exploration of complex human emotions. It tries to encompass many points of view as it travels across the minefield between devout faith and the desire for free will.”
Allan Hunter, Screen Daily

“Beautifully penned by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz (“Ida”), the drama slowly melts the emotional and physical distance between Ronit and Esti, earning the potent, passionate fireworks that eventually light up. If the writing finds the complicated dimensions at each perspective of this triangle, the gorgeous score by electronic musician Matthew Herbert emphasizes it, with orchestral work that is both sharp and warm. And that music surrounds a trio of terrific, empathetic, evolving performances. McAdams’ Esti refuses to let Ronit off the hook, and the complications now present in her once structured life are something she endures with a stoicism that erodes as it becomes more difficult to deny her feelings.”
Kevin Jagernauth, Indie Wire

“Both Weisz and McAdams do a phenomenal job of negotiating who their characters are versus who their characters feel as though they have to be. Weisz, who also produced the film, has played many such darkly self-possessed women before, but McAdams is something of a revelation. Esti is a person of faith, and the Orthodox life is the only one she’s ever known. In a film that’s inevitably critical of fundamentalist precepts (and their hostility toward feminist thought), the script that Lelio co-wrote with Rebecca Lenkiewicz doesn’t do enough to establish Esti’s connection to her community, or illustrate why remaining Dovid’s wife isn’t a show of weakness. But McAdams picks up the slack; watch the way she dutifully tugs off her clothes before they try to conceive, or how she wears her wig with a mannequin’s perfection. She is a woman of deliberate choices, yet one whose life is defined by a decision that HaShem made for her. McAdams’ immaculate performance allows “Disobedience” to unfold as a story about Ronit falling in love with the woman she didn’t want to become, the two characters effectively the same person split in two. Esti is Ronit’s connection to home, but also represents everything she tried to escape. This dynamic results in a fascinatingly conflicted tug-of-war, albeit one that Dovid tends to render as cold and mournful as the gray London winter in which it takes place.”
David Ehrlich, Indie Wire

“Rachel McAdams may have won our hearts in The Notebook, and she got an Oscar nomination for her work in Spotlight, but her work in Disobedience — a forbidden love story opposite Rachel Weisz — is the performance of her career […] As a Conservative Jew with connections to the Orthodox community, I loved it and understood it, but this is a rare case where the movie is way stronger than the book. Beyond that, how did I feel watching Rachel McAdams play a devout Orthodox woman going through a crisis of faith and of love? It didn’t bother me. I loved hearing prayers and songs in the movie, and noticed that Weisz or Lelio wisely kept McAdams’ Hebrew to a minimum. She only really sang one blessing, a traditional woman’s blessing of lighting the candles on Shabbat, and let’s be real, it’s the easiest one to learn. Yesterday on our red carpet, Rachel McAdams called this role a “rare” part of a lifetime and I really hope people get the chance to see it.”
Joanna Adams, Lainey Gossip

“Ronit may be the film’s primary protagonist, but Esti is its heart, and McAdams crafts a character unlike any we’ve yet seen from her. At times, the actress almost seems to be consciously struggling to stifle the sort of effortless magnetism she usually exudes, but so too is her character; it isn’t until Esti boldly takes a drag off of Ronit’s cigarette midway through the film that we see her fully exhale. While Ronit is eager to create miniature firestorms among her devout extended family – particularly during a Shabbat dinner scene that’s shot through with matzo-dry humor – Esti takes her faith and her community seriously, and Ronit’s arrival has a shattering effect on the incomplete yet nonetheless meaningful life she had managed to forge in her absence.”
Andrew Barker, Variety

“Beautifully acted by Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola as the three points of a melancholy romantic triangle, this is a deeply felt drama that exerts a powerful grip. Lelio rigorously eschews melodrama in all this, most crucially in his nuanced treatment of Esti, played by a thoroughly deglamorized McAdams with acute sensitivity. The character initially is fearful and hesitant in her disinhibition, and then gradually more defiant as she confronts her own truth and makes tentative moves to seek her freedom. Throughout this painful process, her faith is never in doubt, nor the sincerity of her feelings for Dovid. Disobedience, a cryptic title that invites more than one interpretation, may be too somber and unhurried to break beyond a niche audience. But the movie’s soulful reflections on collective faith and individual freedoms get under your skin, continuing to resonate after the end credits have rolled. It confirms Lelio’s ascent among the most interesting filmmakers coming out of Latin America.”
David Rooney, THR

“Both Rachels are superb here, and if Weisz is ultimately the story’s anchor, the grieving outsider whose perspective we share at every moment, then McAdams is its secret weapon: She’s piercing to watch as she reveals the cracks in her character’s quietly contented facade, in a story that takes the full measure of her tragedy as well.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Rachel McAdams has never been better. The Oscar nominee for ‘Spotlight’ creates a fascinating woman whose life is not enough. The chemistry between the actresses explodes in one of the sexiest scenes and best scenes of 2017, an emotional climax that never falls into the easy morbid. With Disobedience, Sebastián Lelio is internationally honored as a master in the creation of powerful female characters full of layers who prefer to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.”
Daniel Martínez Mantilla, Fotogramas

“But McAdams is the key here, conveying the inner conflict between her duty and her desire, forbearing on the one hand, sexy on the other. This is an actor taking the kind of risks that should move her career to new levels.”
Susan G. Cole, Now Toronto

“It would be perfectly reasonable for the idea of Rachel McAdams as a Chassidic woman to bring back memories of Melanie Griffith in the camp classic A Stranger Among Us (and at least Griffith had the excuse of playing an undercover cop), but actually McAdams may give the performance of her career here, absolutely committed and deeply moving. Mostly, though, the film belongs to McAdams, who takes a fiendishly difficult role that could have gone horribly wrong in multiple ways, and makes the character not just believable but inspiring.”
Mitch Salem , ShowBuzzDaily

“Disobedience‘s journey is one of authentic emotional honesty excelling in instances of insecurity and fear. No matter how raw Esti and Ronit’s love and passion, the abject horror of being discovered trumps their pleasure. It’s this depiction of repression that will break your heart because it has the potential of grabbing hold so strongly that free will becomes buried forever. Everyone is an adult now with responsibilities stretching beyond individual hopes and dreams.”
Jared Mobarak, Film Stage

“She was not erased from schoolteacher Esti’s (Rachel McAdams) life, however. Married to Rabbi Krushka’s protégé, Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), Esti is the kind of woman Ronit’s father would have wanted his daughter to be: docile and dutiful to the prescriptions of her faith. But, unbeknownst to most, Esti is a renegade in one crucial area. With Ronit’s return home, Esti’s carefully cultivated persona is slowly split in two when it is revealed that she and Ronit were lovers in their youth, and that the feeling between them has not died over the ensuing years. With one look, with one shared drag of a cigarette, a passion thick and fierce begins to re-establish itself: deeply fulfilling for the two women concerned, but an utter crisis for Dovid as he readies for his career as the synagogue’s new rabbi.”
Tomas Trussow, Film Inquiry

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“Rachel McAdams was never better than in Disobedience. Her fight between what she is and wants is wonderful “