This year at TIFF Chilean director Sebastián Lelio shared two fresh LGBT stories that surprised and delighted audiences. In A Fantastic Woman he brilliantly showcased a rare tale of transgendered heroism, where a young woman finds herself fighting to simply be respected after the sudden passing of her older lover.
His second cinematic gift was the simply titled and somber Disobedience starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdam. Loosely based on British author Naomi Alderman’s novel and co-scripted with playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Lelio’s first film set outside of his native Chile shares a lesbian love story set inside an Orthodox Jewish community in London.
Happily single and living an artistically satisfying life as an edgy photographer in New York, Ronit (Weisz) is the the black sheep of her Orthodox Jewish family in England. When her revered rabbi father dies, Ronit returns home to pay her respects and collect her inheritance.
She arrives unannounced, receiving glares from community members who gossip about the fact that she suddenly disappeared one day and has lost her faith. She’s surprised when she finds out that Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) – the apparent heir to her father – has married her childhood friend Esti (McAdams).
While Dovid prepares to take over as leader at the synagogue, Rnoit and Esti catch up on lost time – igniting an old flame which could torch the religious rules and order the community holds so dear. Disobedience is a breathtaking lesbian love story where unassuming heroes are celebrated for living their truth. Its tender end offers an example to the fact that sometimes in order to show someone you truly love them you have to set them free.