The film, (showing in select markets), explores disobedience, detailing those involved, as well as the type of disobedience. It’s an engrossing and emotional love opus from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio marking his English language debut, following “A Fantastic Woman”, a film well received at festivals this year (reviewed recently in this column).

Ronit Khruska (Rachel Weisz), returns to her Orthodox Jewish community in London after the death of her rabbi father and stirs up controversy when she shows an interest in an old childhood friend. She is living her life as a photographer in New York. During a photo shoot she is informed of her father’s passing. Stunned by the news and in a vulnerable state, she drinks up at a local bar and embarks on a one nighter with a stranger.

Ronit flies home to London where she feels out of place in the Orthodox Jewish community she left behind. Dovid Kuperman (Alessandro Nivola), a son figure to her Rabbi father, is surprised by the unexpected return of his childhood friend.

Her aunt Fruma greets her more openly, though the air is frosty between Ronit and her uncle Moshe (Allan Corduner). Ronit is both upset and angry that she was not informed of her father’s illness and that her father’s obituary claims he was childless.

Despite tension surrounding Ronit’s sudden departure in the past, Dovid invites her to stay with him and his wife. She is startled to learn that he is married to their former best friend Esti (Rachel McAdams), now a teacher at an Orthodox girls’ school. It is uncomfortable between the two women; a complicated past is clearly hanging over them.

The plot reveals Ronit and Esti were more than friends – it wasn’t just religion she was fleeing but forbidden love. The feelings between the two are still evident. The film cunningly lets the viewer decide just how open a secret their relationship always was.

Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola dominate the film with quiet yet powerful performances.

“Disobedience” goes beyond just dealing with sex. It’s an art house film with sensitive passion involving religion, love, courage and claiming one’s life. Though a somewhat somber plot, the film deserves an audience for depicting conflicting emotions with artistic realism.

 

WICKED

Something wicked this way comes….a tale of two witches in the blockbuster musical “Wicked,” a powerhouse on the Broadway stage since 2003 (and still running). The touring production is in performance at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish theatre.

The narrative, essentially a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, invents a back story leading to the events in the much loved Judy Garland film. Adapted from Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, it explores the early lives of Glinda, the goodie, and Elphaba, the future green baddie, and how this unlikely pairing become friends. The two met at university, and by a misunderstanding, wind up roommates. After an initial period of mutual enmity, the two begin to care for, and influence each other (expressed in the poignant duet “For Good”). Their choices and convictions take the two on widely different journeys in roles that provide distinctive characterisations whilst complementing each other’s performance. Even though she’s the “wicked witch”, there’s a kindness about Elphaba that draws you to her character and you feel for her throughout the show.

Wicked is a fantasy venture with substance, and emotional appeal in a superbly polished musical extravaganza driven by robust performances. The narrative blends romantic comedy with strong political undertones, an animal rights treatise with a talking goat and flying monkeys. It’s a parable on the pitfalls of getting what you want, a warning on the limits of friendship, and an homage to a classic film. The saga is centered on two women who are unrelated, yet have a complex emotional attachment, while still remaining starkly unique individuals.

It must be acknowledged of the impact made by Ginna Claire Mason (Glinda) and Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba) for their scintilating performances as the witchy witches. They have earned the leads in this excellent touring production, having stepped up from standby roles on Broadway as well as on-the-road. They make us laugh, and stir emotions in their bittersweet relationship.

The on stage witchcraft wafts over the audience; a cautionary tale about learning to live with one’s choices and doing so with magical enchantment. It reveals a lesson wrapped in heart warming entertainment, leaving one feeling bewitched at final curtain. It’s not easy being green, but “Wicket” makes audiences aware that an individual’s color, and being different, isn’t important.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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INDIAN HORSE

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