Disobedience ★★★½

The standard cis-het praise for a film with a LGBT lead character is almost always that the story is "so relatable”. Which, at least in some instances, is just a nice way of saying that the speaker found the character’s identity to be largely incidental to the story. Particularly in romances (and romantic tragedies), I think this indeed comes off as a vacuous, backhanded sort of compliment.

However, director Sebastián Lelio's features are only romances in the proximal, descriptive sense; he makes adult dramas, full stop. He isn’t all that interested in love, or even lust, at least as ultimate subjects. What he *is* interested in is how those potent emotions sharpen, obfuscate, and discombobulate other aspects of the human experience, such as aging in 'Gloria', grief in 'A Fantastic Woman', or religion and freedom in 'Disobedience'.

Lelio has gotten some flak lately for the “insufficient queerness” of his films, but this strikes me as beside the point. Queerness is often deeply embedded in them, as both a motif and a plot point, but it’s not what his films are *about*, strictly speaking.

Anyway, the Orthodox Jewish lesbian drama 'Disobedience' is a splendidly anxious, aching, and earnest exploration of how a person can make you so crazy-stupid with love that it clarifies everything else about your life. So, yes, it's "relatable", although it's crowned with a lesbian sex scene that's fairly queer, in that it's not really designed to appeal to the straight male gaze at all. (Lots of fully or partly clothed hands-down-the-pants action -- unlike, say, the sweaty, marathon scissoring in 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' or 'The Handmaid' or even the cavalier, mumblecore-ish nudity in the recent 'Duck Butter'.)

Also, Rachel Weisz spits into Rachel McAdams' mouth.

I'm docking the film, however, for an unspeakable, embarrassingly on-the-nose use of a great song by The Cure.