In Disobedience, Rachel Weisz stars as Ronit, a Jewish woman shunned from the East London Orthodox community she was raised in after a transgression with her childhood friend Esti (Rachel McAdams). When Ronit returns home to attend her rabbi father’s funeral, the two women discover their feelings for one another haven’t changed—threatening Esti’s marriage and her place in the community.
Based on Naomi Alderman’s 2006 novel of the same name, Sebastian Lelio’s followup to Oscar winner A Fantastic Woman is a thought-provoking look at the struggle between religious and societal expectations and desire and independence.
“It’s really an inspiring story about what it means to be free,” Weisz told NewNowNext. “And that we don’t all fit into mainstream society’s little boxes.”
Before Disobedience’s release on Friday, the Oscar-winning actress spoke about her sex scenes with McAdams, how she chooses her roles, and film’s ability to teach us empathy.
What drew you to the character of Ronit?
I look for conflict, complexity, and contradictions like real human beings have. Telling stories about real people and stepping into their shoes is challenging and exciting for me. I believe when we see stories about real people we can relate to, we feel seen. I also believe movies like this one help people feel empathy for others.
The sex scene with Rachel McAdams is quite powerful. How was creating it different from others you’ve done in the past?
A lot softer, that’s for sure! And a lot less stubble than what I’m used to on and off screen. Yes, the scenes between Ronit and Esti are powerful because they are meaningful and emotional. It’s a moment of true, intense passion. It’s also the rekindling of an adolescent connection. The passion between them is very meaningful and that’s what’s captured. Both women can be their true selves together—especially Esti. Her orgasm is like a cathartic release. It’s about freedom.
It was reported that you edited that scene yourself to avoid it feeling like it was shot under a male gaze. Can you tell us more about that?
Actually, that’s not true. I wanted to work with Sebastian because I love the way he shoots women as subjects and not as objects. In Gloria, he shot beautiful love scenes of a character who is a 50-year-old, aging woman in a way that put her front and center. And that’s how he captured these characters.
What do you hope viewers take away from this film?
Though it’s not the most uplifting story, it’s still an inspiring and empowering one. It’s about what it means to be free. We don’t all have to fit into mainstream’s society little boxes.”
Disobedience is in theaters April 28.