Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
Disobedience (2017): 3 out of 10: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” is a famous Alfred Hitchcock quote, at least according to my Civilization V pause screen. Director Sebastián Lelio has not gotten that memo. This movie makes Woody Allen’s Interiors look as if Michael Bay directed it.
The Good: the acting is on point with the material given. Unlike others, I thought Rachel McAdams’s accent was fairly good. The Orthodox Jewish setting seems well researched and the overall theme of man being between the beasts and the angels is well represented, with a good opening and callback.
The Bad: Do you want to see endless shots of people setting tables or carrying luggage upstairs? This film has you covered. Every scene also seems to take a minute longer than it needed to. Disobedience does itself no favors. The palate is shockingly grey. The scenes have no life. Outside of a small classroom scene; the film is bereft of children and noise. (Compare to say the way The Godfather always had such activities just in camera range.) Considering big families are very common in such communities, this seems particularly strange. Nobody says what he or she is thinking, which may be the point, but you are left with two hours of truncated conversations and meaningful glances.
The Ugly: I am not too proud to admit I have sat through some pretty bad films for a hot lesbian sex scene or even just nudity (Blame it on Rio, Embrace of the Vampire, Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale). Surely a scene of hot lesbian sex between Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz will make watching people not talk to each other for an hour worthwhile.
Oh God… director Sebastián Lelio had just one job, and he dropped the ball and then some. Don’t throw away that Misty Mundae Blu-ray boxed set just yet. Do you remember that scene from Drag Me to Hell between the gypsy woman and Alison Lohman? Or maybe that scene between Ripley and the queen mother in Aliens?
Leaving aside the obvious lack of passion in the scene and the surprising amount of clothing still on the characters, there is a fetish which I will not spoil, that the director felt this was the perfect time to introduce to the wider world. A fetish one might expect in a horror film, or maybe an early John Waters piece. Ew… is not a word you want to hear from your audience when showing them the climatic scene of your film.
Look I wasn’t expecting Blue is the Warmest Color with major Hollywood stars, but would it have killed you to throw in a Roger Corman’s Forbidden World style shower scene before going back to ten minutes of packing for the airport, ten minutes in line at the airport and then the coming back from the airport without taking the flight after all scene?
In Conclusion: Boring with bad sex is common enough in real life one does not need a film to replicate such things.