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‘Disobedience’ Director Says Porn Is ‘Everywhere and Making Us Numb’

Sebastián Lelio explains what he was trying to avoid in a pivotal sex scene.

Sebastian Lelio - Best Foreign Language Film - 'A Fantastic Woman'90th Annual Academy Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Mar 2018

Sebastian Lelio

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Sebastián Lelio is a busy guy. “Disobedience” arrived in theaters shortly after “A Fantastic Woman” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year, and “Gloria Bell” — an English-language remake of his own film “Gloria,” with Julianne Moore playing the part originated by Paulina García — is due in theaters next year. As evidenced by a new Guardian profile, the Chilean filmmaker has a lot on his mind.

Asked about the pivotal sex scene in “Disobedience,” which stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, Lelio muses, “I knew this scene was at the heart of the film, but didn’t know how to face it. It made me think about how sex is represented today. The presence of porn is everywhere and making us numb — eroticism has been altered and damaged.”

As he continues, “The question became: how might you make something erotic without nudity? It was important, too, to discover what was particular to these lovers, what they do, because each couple will find its own way of communicating.”

Though the scene was approached carefully, there were no rehearsals. “It is about trust,” Lelio says. “I love working with actors, and need to know they trust me and can explore, get lost, be foolish or brave, and I’ll take care of them. I love working on set — it is where the sparkle is.”

That approach has earned praise from his cast. Speaking to IndieWire earlier this year, Weisz said that Lelio “just doesn’t objectify, he subjectifies. And mainly women. He just has empathy. I think that’s all it is.”

A24 will release “Gloria Bell,” which premiered to favorable reviews at TIFF, on March 8.

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