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Posts Tagged ‘Sebastian Lelio’

Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams

“DISOBEDIENCE” My rating: B 

114 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Disobedience” is being described as a lesbian love story. Admittedly, it’s shot through with erotic yearnings

But that label is too limiting. This latest effort from Chilean auteur Sebastian Lelio (whose “A Fantastic Woman” won the foreign language Oscar this year) is more accurately about breaking away from an unfulfilling past to face a future of uncertain possibilities.

Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) has already made that break.  The only child of the rabbi of an uber-orthodox Jewish community in London, Ronit years earlier fled that insular world and the likelihood of an arranged marriage, moved to New York, changed her name to Ronnie Curtis and launched a career as a fine arts photographer concentrating on society’s fringes.

Upon receiving the news that her widowed father has died, Ronit goes to a nightclub, drinks and dances and ends up having sex with a man in the restroom.

Everyone grieves in their own way.

Flying to London, Ronit is met with varying degrees of compassion and suspicion. Some members of the religious community shun her; the newspaper obit states that her father “had no children.”  But she’s given a room by her father’s long-time student/disciple David (Alessandro Nivola) and his wife Esti (Rachel McAdams). The three were friends during their teenage years.

Ronnie begins to question the wisdom of returning. Her father’s will gives all his possessions, including his house, to the synagogue. And she’s perturbed that Esti, who as an adolescent shared her dissatisfaction with life in a strict religious community, is now the wife of the man who stands to become the new leader of that community.

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Daniela Vega

“A FANTASTIC WOMAN” My rating: A- 

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

What Daniela Vega delivers in the Oscar-winning (for foreign language film) “A Fantastic Woman” is less a case of acting than of being.

As a trans woman portraying a trans woman in a film scripted for her by director Sebastian Lelio and co-writer Gonzalo Maza, the Chilean actress so blurs the line between fiction and fact that the picture unfolds in a rarified realm of  ultra-realism (this despite a few moments of deliberate magic realism).

In a tale bursting with emotion and meaning,  Vega doesn’t have to push her performance. Simply by being here and reacting honestly to the screenplay’s situations she delivers a devastating, deeply moving message.

Marina (Vega) is a waitress with a part-time gig singing in a Santiago night spot. As the film begins she and her older lover, Orlando (Francisco Reyes), are preparing to celebrate with a bit of foreign travel.

But it’s not to be.  In the middle of the night Orlando has a stroke and falls down a flight of stairs.  Marina rushes him to a hospital, but it’s too late.

Most of “A Fantastic Woman” unfolds in the week leading up to Orlando’s funeral, when Marina must deal not only with her own grief but with the indignities heaped upon her by an uncaring system and Orlando’s disapproving family.

 

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