L’Shana Tovah, everybody! I hope you had a nice holiday and are as relieved as I am to have a nice, fresh year on hand now that Mercury is finally no longer in retrograde. (My neighbor explained to me why this is important while we were walking our dogs yesterday, and it actually started to make sense to me, meaning that I have now officially lived in L.A. for too long). In any case, the Rosh Hashanah holiday, to me, signaled that the wretchedness that has been 2016 is beginning its final limp to a long overdue close.
So what better way to ring in 5777 than with Disobedience, a new movie about Jewish lesbians starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams (in negotiation), a duo also known as America’s favorite Rachels, despite neither one of them being technically American. (And if you want to know where I stand, I haven’t received my official rank, but I think it’s somewhere behind overpriced yet covetable tasteful hipster fashion designer Rachel Comey and ersatz African-American tabloid curiosity Rachel Dolezal.) Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman, Disobedience, which Weisz will also produce, concerns a young woman (played by Rachel W.) who returns to her ultra-Orthodox enclave after the death of her estranged father, as she rekindles a repressed relationship with her best friend (played by Rachel M.) that, in the words of Variety, “causes an upheaval in the quiet community.” I’ll say.
The film’s announcement comes on the heels of a rash of recent memoirs and other explorations—Leah Vincent’s Cut Me Loose; Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox; not to mention Alderman’s acclaimed novel—that lift, if not the veil, then the sheitel on the lives of Orthodox Jewish women who have traditionally been seen as primarily identically dressed wives and mothers who push strollers and quietly shop for sensible shoes from the sale rack at Bloomingdale’s. Depictions on the big screen have been few and far between—the Renée Zellweger camp classic A Price Above Rubies notwithstanding (I watch it every time it happens to be on TV and, which, lest we forget, has its own lesbian subtext in that scene where she tries to make out with Juliana Marguiles before she meets the Puerto Rican jewelry designer and lives happily ever after). But in this new age of inclusivity in art—even as so-called populist movements seek to keep ever increasing lists of “others” out—this film, with its fancy cast, highbrow source matter, and Venn diagram of two marginalized subjects (Orthodox women; lesbians) seems to turn this course in reverse.
The world is wide, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the stories that should be told. We could do a lot worse than Hasidic Carol.