After Disobedience came out in late April, it appears to have faded from people’s memories. Given how voters tend to gravitate towards films that came out in the fall or even the summer, it looks to be difficult for the film to gain any traction. However, it should still be a contender regardless.
It should at the very least be a contender in one particular category and that is Best Supporting Actor for Alessandro Nivola. The film is mainly about the forbidden love affair between Ronit Krushka (Rachel Weisz) and Esti Kuperman (Rachel McAdams). However, Alessandro Nivola manages to be a standout as well as Esti’s domineering husband, Rabbi Dovid Kuperman.
Nivola’s performance is an incredibly fine example of acting as interpreting. A role like Dovid could’ve been very easy to villainize since he’s trying hard to keep his house and marriage in order and is a part of a very patriarchal community. Yet, Alessandro Nivola plays him with a rather sombering melancholy to hint at how he reels from his wife’s infidelity. Dovid still tries getting Esti to be an obedient wife but he still is unable to use physical force because he is trying to process the effect her affair has on him.
However, when Dovid is communicating with his fellow rabbis, he puts on a new face for them. When they express their concern over how Ronit’s arrival in their community may be causing a disturbance in his household, he talks about keeping his house in order but expresses it with a rather sneering diction which lets this version of Dovid contradicts the more somber version of him that we see in his own home. As we can tell, Dovid is a man struggling with his own place in his community and with the distance between him and his wife. Both of those struggles are demonstrated entirely through the use of the actor’s eyes and his line delivery.
It’s not a particularly showy performance which is probably why he isn’t getting much attention. But given how tricky the character is and also, how he makes him three-dimensional without the use of expositional dialogue or acting histrionics, Alessandro Nivola should still get recognition. Even though Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams are the heart and soul of Disobedience, Alessandro Nivola brilliantly plays a man caught in the middle of the love triangle.
He gives a well-textured, scene stealing performance which is the kind that the Supporting Actor category is meant for. He has a fair amount of screentime but not big enough to the point where it would be considered a lead performance. His character does have an arc to navigate but the film still chiefly belongs to its leading women.
So to any awards voter that may read this plea, here’s hoping that you don’t forget how brilliant Alessandro Nivola’s performance is. He’s an actor that has been brilliant and unsung for years and finally has the right awards-worthy role for him to potentially get this due. For what it’s worth, he already has a British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. So, there are those starting to take note of his brilliance.