“Disobedience” Reviews Round-Up

Disobedience” is getting critical acclaim thus far and currently holds a 91% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (making it officially certified ‘Fresh’) and 75 Meta Critics Score. Rachel’s performance especially gets praise with critics calling her performance a “stand-out” and “powerhouse“. We will round-up the reviews in this post and we will – as always – focus on the Rachel-centered excerpts. And in case you missed it we rounded-up the reviews after the TIFF premiere in our previous post.

“It’s astounding performances, and complex themes flirt with the dangers and beauty of love in a compassionate, lucid manner. Unsure what sauce Rachel McAdams has been sipping since her Oscar nomination for “Spotlight” in 2015 but the actress had found her hinted mojo that we saw when she emerged onto the scene fourteen years ago with “The Notebook” and “Mean Girls.” She taps into the universal anxieties regarding an examination of one’s self while still simmering in a stunning atmosphere that features eye-catching visuals. McAdams may very well be on her way to her second Oscar nomination, and it wouldn’t be underserved. Esti is heartened and reserved but explores ranges that are both delicate and voluptuous.”
Clayton Davis, Award Circuit

3.5/4 stars
“McAdams, for her part, is quietly devastating as a wife trying to measure what would be lost if she broke free to follow her heart. Weisz and McAdams, two extraordinary actresses at the top of their game, cut so deep into their characters you can almost feel their nerve endings.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The real star of the piece is Rachel McAdams who, meek underneath her wig, welcomes her former lover into her new, cleansed home. It’s really only McAdams who manages to capture and break our hearts.”
Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute

“Disobedience rests on the strengths of its two Rachels, and Weisz and McAdams deliver on what they’re given. The film truly belongs to McAdams, turning in career-high work as someone who has only just decided to wage open revolt against her faith.”
Andrew Lapin, NPR

“McAdams gives one of the best performances of her career as her character wrestles with the enormous question of whether, and how, to give up everything she’s ever known. Ultimately, this is a gently humane portrait of an enduring problem facing men and women in all manner of fundamentalist communities: the notion that choice has anything to do with who we desire.”
Sara Stewart, New York Post

“So it is not surprising that two of contemporary cinema’s best actresses, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, take the leading roles here and that Alessandro Nivola does perhaps the most affecting work of his career as their costar […] Coming across at first as timid and plain (quite a challenge for an actress as charismatic as McAdams), Esti turns out to be passionate not only about Ronit but about her vocation as a teacher in a girls high school as well. What she wants is not necessarily freedom but choice.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“They also light and frame McAdams so observantly that we register each hint of psychosexual awareness in a twinkle of her eyes or a bend of her mouth. McAdams effortlessly and stunningly conveys Esti’s dizzying ripples of satisfaction or frustration with an orderly life.”
Michael Sragow , Film Comment

4/5 stars
“Speaking of performances, both Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz turn in some of the finest performances of their careers. Of the two, McAdams perhaps the more difficult role, in that she might not be relatable to very many moviegoers. I’ll admit, there was definitely a part of me that wanted to shout Why don’t you just leave him? at Esti. Yet, McAdams gives us a finely-etched and balanced portrayal of someone who genuinely loves the conservative life they’ve chosen for themselves; someone for whom sex and love are not the only things she has going for her, or needs to “complete her.””
Teresa Jusino, Teresa Jusino

4/5 stars
“Disobedience makes a seductive and impassioned case for greater sexual freedom and female autonomy, but never devalues those who have chosen a different path. Timely and well-told with two amazing performances by Weisz and McAdams, it makes for one of the year’s best dramas and shouldn’t be overlooked. ”
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“All three of these actors, Weisz, McAdams and Nivola, deliver heart-rending performances, and are perfectly cast. The two Rachels play off each other perfectly. Both Weisz and McAdams are seasoned performers — we never doubt for a minute the sincerity of their characters.”
David Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

“That puts a heavy burden on Ms. McAdams, who with some cursory lines of dialogue, a lot of brooding dark looks and some behind-doors weeping needs to make a persuasive case for why Esti stayed in this world and with her husband. Ms. McAdams, who lets you see the eddies of emotion rippling over Esti’s face as she pulls off her wig, does some lovely work here to convey a woman agonizing over her existential situation. Part of what makes Ms. McAdams and Ms. Weisz such appealing performers is how persuasively they convey the inner lives of the characters they play, which makes it easy to put yourself on their side.”
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“It’s easy to remember Rachel McAdams’ most iconic performance, Regina George in Mean Girls, as little more than the ruthlessly hilarious one-liners and cutting GIF-worthy glances on the surface. But there’s so much more bubbling underneath in her performance that makes it iconic. McAdams is a master of presenting a confident, assured front while meaning or feeling something entirely different. The gulf between what she says and what she wants gets played for laughs in Mean Girls, but in her latest film, Sebastian Lelio’s Disobedience, it’s played for tension and tragedy […] The stakes are high, yet Disobedience never slips into easy melodrama. Lelio focuses far more on the non-verbal language of affection and repulsion than any grand speeches or gestures. Lucky for him, he’s got fluent speakers in the art of the gaze with McAdams, Weisz and Nivola. The film lives in Weisz’s frightened glances seeking permanence and McAdams’ glistening eyes once she remembers transgression is a choice available to her. We’ve come to take the former for granted and scarcely recognize the latter at all. Hopefully this movie changes both. If filmmakers can’t find it within themselves to let Rachel McAdams time travel along with her on-screen husbands, at least recognize her as a modern master of the stare.”
Marshall Shaffer, Slash Film

“McAdams and Weisz are on fire in “Disobedience” showing sides to their talents that we’ve never seen before in this truly unique film. “Disobedience” might not look like it’s for everyone on the surface, but its specificity is what makes it worthy and, almost, great.”
Lindsey Bahr , Associated Press

“Weisz and McAdams are excellent — and in McAdams’ case especially, remarkably stripped of vanity and affectation.”
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

3.5/4 stars
“But mousy Esti is just as challenging a role (if not more so), and McAdams is tremendous in it. The way the character morphs into self-possession and articulacy rests on McAdams’ ability to wring out the obeisant tics that have anchored the character for so long, and she does so with an elegant subtlety. In the beginning, her actions are habitual: her speech, her gait, the way she adjusts her wig—all precise and correct. She has trained herself to accept her life, and she does her best to model her acceptance to maintain the acceptance of her society. With Ronit, she sees new and dangerous possibilities. She craves them. And, in a memorable scene of passionate lovemaking, she demonstrates that craving with the hunger of a lioness. There is, however, fearful doubts and repercussions that cannot be ignored, and McAdams skillfully displays all these conflicts with a virtuoso restraint. The decision she must make is agonizing, but in the end, she resists letting it destroy her.”
Tomas Trussow, Film Inquiry

“The famous Rachels in question — Weisz and McAdams — deliver bruising, dynamic performances as Ronit and Esti respectively […] McAdams laces her delivery with a chilling, pointed iciness, making it a subtle but slicing accusation rather than a mere statement of fact. McAdams’ performance throughout is surprising and arresting. That’s a tricky performance to pull off, and McAdams does it well, making Esti much more than a tragic character, making it known that she’s more in control of her life than meets the eye. That small, quiet movement from McAdams conveys so much with so little, and Disobedience truly thrives in its restraint, striking a stunning balance between being explicit about its queer love story but also nuanced and subtle in its complex emotional storytelling.”
Kayla, Auto Straddle

“For also in attendance is her and Dovid’s other childhood friend, Esti (a sublime Rachel McAdams)—and Esti is now Dovid’s wife. The three leads all excel in their performances, with Rachel McAdams truly showing what a great performance should be. Subtle and timid, you can feel the river rushing inside her as she never lets an over embellished look or emotion escape her face.”
Matthew Schuchman, Den Of Geek

“Rachel McAdams Delivers In This Heartbreakingly Beautiful Lesbian Drama.”
Lauren Cox, Hollywood Life

“In quite possibly her best work, McAdams navigates the trickier role of Esti with finesse. She is torn between her personal desires and her responsibility to her husband and religion, and the movie puts her at the forefront of that blurred line. It’s a rich and dramatically rewarding role for the actress.”
Matthew Passantino, Big Picture Big Sound

“Weisz and McAdams are so natural in their performances […] With “Disobedience” Lelio continues to establish himself as an important new voice in international cinema. For Weisz and McAdams this is a memorable work with some of their best performances.”
Alci Rengifo, Entertainment Voice

3.5/4 stars
“Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams stun in forbidden romance ‘Disobedience’. Yet “Disobedience” is also filled with intense passion, expertly conveyed by Weisz and McAdams, who generate a collective picture of longing and desire that functions as the beating heart of this movie. There is so much left barely unsaid in many of their scenes together (and those with Nivola), so much dancing just below the formal surface, that the movie plays as a veritable clinic in generating on-screen tension.”
Robert Levin, Amny

“McAdams is also superb as a woman who escaped in a different way, into the stability of a marriage she doesn’t have her whole heart in, simply because she didn’t have anywhere else to go.”
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media

“An absolutely spectacular McAdams […] I can’t emphasize enough how fantastic McAdams is in this role. She tackles Esti with such tenderness, and as Esti’s walls come tumbling down, McAdams breaks through. A criminally underrated actress, I hope that McAdams picks up a nomination for this performance because it is most heartily deserved.”
Dana Piccoli, Bella Books

“It’s that care for the small moments that defines McAdams’ performance, as well. As indicated by her Oscar-nominated (yet sadly underappreciated) performance in Spotlight, McAdams has a gift for showing the skill with which a person can hide a storm of emotion, and knowing when to let that facade crack, ever so slightly. It would be easy to mistake Esti’s early scenes as pleasantly forgettable, but this is a person who has spent her entire life learning to be pleasant and forgettable. McAdams and Lelio together underline the moments where the mask slips — when she first sees Ronit, when she’s goaded into speech at a Shabbat dinner, and especially when she prepares to re-enter the classroom in which she feels most at home. There’s no hand-holding here: either you see Esti’s performance for what it is, or she’s fooled you, just as she tries to fool those who populate her life […] The performances, like the film, are rich, layered things of tremendous feeling and complexity.”
Allison Shoemaker , Consequence Of Sound

“Rachel McAdams with a brilliantly layered turn as the dutiful and unhappy wife suppressing her true sexuality to settle for conventional married life […] Lelio is one of a kind at creating beautifully drawn portraits of disenfranchised types that deserve respect, simultaneously showing up the ugliness of humanity in grounded ways, but there is also no spark here without the fearlessly committed performances from Weisz and McAdams.”
Robert Kodjer, Flickering Myth

“The performances are towering, especially McAdams, who gradually eclipses her co-stars. She’s desperate, yearning and losing her closely curated sense of control. She makes palpable the experience of a young queer woman forcing herself to be something she’s not. And when the mask (or the wig) comes off, it’s nearly impossible to put back on.”
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service (TNS)

“Rachel McAdams, restrained and terrific.”
Tomris Laffly , TimeOut

“Two superb performances from a couple of Rachels, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams […] Weisz and McAdams are perfectly matched here, completely natural in the required love scenes, which are tastefully handled but don’t shy away from the reality of the situation. Both stars shine, with McAdams particularly touching as the one who stayed behind, left to a life dictated by the world into which she was born.”
Pete Hammond, Deadline

“eisz and McAdams have conflicting styles and have taken divergent career paths, but their differences provide serious sparks here. Weisz’s gravity—her eyes seem to be permanently misty here—anchors the drama, while McAdams, who specializes in restrained neurosis, slowly and carefully unleashes her passions. McAdams has been wasted for too long as the underwritten love interest in films such as Aloha, Doctor Strange, and Southpaw. It’s remarkable what she can do in a film that understands her talents.”
Noah Gittell, Washington City Paper