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story.lead_photo.caption Disobedience, directed by Sebastian Lelio


directed by Sebastian Lelio

(R, 1 hour, 54 minutes)

The phrase "May you live a long life," sounds like a blessing. But not when it's pronounced by stern men in black and women in wigs to a rabbi's estranged daughter Ronit (Rachel Weisz) who, in the wake of his death, has returned to the north London Orthodox enclave she fled years earlier for a bohemian life as a photographer in New York.

Ronit, estranged from her family, gets a cool welcome from all but Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), her teenage friend and devoted student of the rabbi. Another childhood friend, Esti (Rachel McAdams), is now Dovid's wife.

It's not a spoiler to note that Esti and Ronit were more than friends back in the day; the freighted looks that pass between them cue us in pretty fast. Dovid might have been too busy with the Torah to notice, or he might simply be a generous soul who trusts his wife and her old lover to behave under his roof. He obviously didn't have the benefit of seeing either the film's trailer or poster.

Looking for a story with two strong female leads, Weisz optioned Naomi Alderman's controversial novel and brought producer Frida Torresblanco and red-hot Chilean director Sebastian Lelio (Gloria, A Fantastic Woman) on board. Lelio and British playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz adapted the book, changing the ending.

And Ronit is a character who is resentful but also wounded by her failure to patch things up with her father before his death. While there's a practical cover for her trip -- she wants to sell his house (and is rocked by the revelation she's not mentioned in his will) -- she also yearns to honor the old man. And once she's there, she wants to liberate Esti.

McAdams' role is, at least on paper, the more interesting. While her acting is fine, she feels fundamentally miscast. Her Esti feels like a naif barely out of school, while Ronit is a full-grown woman.

The secret hero of the piece is Nivola as Dovid, who could have come off as an oppressor or a clueless chump. Yet in some ways he's the most sympathetic character in the movie, a man of genuine faith struggling to understand how and why he should acquiesce to what he's been taught is an unnatural and dangerous desire on the part of a woman who really loves him, just not like that.

Rampage (PG-13, 1 hour, 47 minutes) A cartoonish, adolescent, and intermittently entertaining adventure -- inspired by an arcade video game -- in which primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), is in a quandary when George, the smart silverback gorilla that Okoye raised from his birth, transforms into a monster as a result of a failed genetic experiment. George isn't the only one. Somebody's got to put a stop to this. And it might as well be The Rock. With Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Jake Lacy, Malin Akerman; directed by Brad Peyton.

Truth or Dare (PG-13, 1 hour, 40 minutes) For those who like their horror films to be anything but scary, this is a mediocre low-budget teen slasher effort concerning a college student who is haunted by an ill-tempered ghostly presence after playing a seemingly innocent game of Truth or Dare. With Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane; directed by Jeff Wadlow.

I Feel Pretty (PG-13, 1 hour, 50 minutes) A promising premise gets lost in this too-commercial and labored effort that takes cheap shots at less-than-perfect body types while pretending to equalize the playing field. The plot concerns a woman with low self-esteem who takes a fall in an exercise class that knocks her out; when she awakens she views herself as a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel. With Amy Schumer, Emily Ratajkowski, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel; directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein.

MovieStyle on 07/20/2018

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