Friday, June 15, 2018

BOOK VS MOVIE: Disobedience

There's always something so tantalizing about the forbidden romance, the story of the star-crossed lovers. We root for them to see if in fact that love can conquer all. Very seldom do they receive the happiness they ache for in the end (same-sex couples are the more glaring examples) but the few that do get exactly what (and who) they want.

Disobedience is a more recent example of this oft-told tale. After receiving news that her father -- a well-respected rabbi in London -- has died, Ronit returns to the home she left behind years before. But as she reacquaints herself to the Orthodox Jewish community she was raised in, she discovers that her former lover Esti has married Ronit's cousin Dovid. Is the past truly in the past for both women or will sparks be re-ignited?

Naomi Alderman's novel focuses greatly on the workings of Judaism, each chapter opening with an examination of particular beliefs within the religion (that also happen to summarize their respective sections). Switching between perspectives (and fonts) from the third person and Ronit, we see how complex the society is to its devotees.

Sebastián Lelio's adaptation eschews most of the novel's focus on grief and faith in favor of Ronit and Esti's relationship. (There is way more sexual tension here than what Alderman originally wrote.) Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams have strong chemistry (it'd be unfortunate if they didn't) but the shift in the story's central themes feels outputting at times.

So which is better: Alderman's book or Leilo's movie? Both have different characterizations for both plotline and leads. (How Dovid is portrayed, for instance, differs between the works.) Still, they both make one thing certain: one's feelings may not change after many years have passed.

What's worth checking out?: The book.

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