Director Sebastian Lelio has a way of handling tricky subject matter with delicacy, honesty and good story-telling. He did it with the Spanish film, A Fantastic Woman (2017) and he’s done it again with this romantic drama set within an insular, traditional Jewish enclave in a northern London suburb.
Ronit (Rachel Weisz), a successful New York photographer, returns to England after hearing of the death of her father who was the Rabbi in the fiercely conservative Jewish community from which she was forced to flee years earlier due to a transgression. Politely shunned by all except her two closest friends, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams) who are now married, Ronit accepts their invitation to stay in their home. It’s a tinder box for the original “transgression” – an affair between Esti and Ronit – to be reignited, which, of course, it is.
The relationship is handled with tenderness and taste, with a sex scene that is explicit but not titillating. The two Rachels in the lead roles are credible and appealing and Nivola gives complexity to a character tortured by religious duty, love, pride and his own inherent belief of what is right.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.