Legal Thriller ‘Disobey’ Finds Urgency in Landmark Abortion Case
Premiering in Series Mania’s International Panorama section, the Quebecois limited series “Disobey” tackles the docudrama as urgent thriller, finding notes of tension in the lead up to a 1980s ruling the guaranteed abortion rights to women across Canada.
With the visual polish that has become signature for Montreal-based Also Productions, the six-part premium drama follows the real case of Chantale Daigle (Éléonore Loiselle), a 21-year-old woman who pushed against an abusive ex-partner and two court injunctions, eventually leading to a Supreme Court ruling that secured body autonomy for Canadian women. And all that in just a matter of weeks.
More from Variety
Series Mania Welcomes 'Succession' Star Brian Cox, Spoofs 'The Crown,' Teases 'Garbage in Paris'
Cédric Klapisch Returns to His 'Pot Luck' Family in Amazon Series 'Greek Salad': 'It Was Emotional for All of Us'
Jack Thorne, Ron Leshem, Pedro Almodovar Feature in Talent-Studded Series Mania Main Competition
“For us, it was important [to hit that urgency], because that’s what really happened,” says Also founder Sophie Lorain. “Chantale went through three steps of jurisdiction and all the way to the Supreme Court in less than two months. While a child grew inside, these gentlemen were chatting along, not making up their minds as to whether a fetus had a personality. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking for her.”
Written by Isabelle Pelletier and Daniel Thibault, and directed by Also co-founder Alexis Durand-Brault, “Disobey” veers along two parallel timelines, one following the young woman as she emancipates herself from both an abusive partner and a retrograde legal authority, and one looking back one year prior to see Chantale fall into that initial toxic relationship with the manipulative Jean-Guy Tremblay (Antoine Pilon, of “Matthias & Maxime”).
“As this is a story about domestic violence and harassment, we needed center the humans at the core,” says Lorain. “Chantale was a young girl in love, overwhelmed by naiveté and with a full and open heart. And if Jean-Guy was manipulative, he was also very open at the beginning, very charming. Of course, you could see what was coming.”
With the results of the case a simple Wikipedia away, the creative team wanted to play into the uncertainty of the moment, all while creating a period-accurate setting that didn’t, for lack of a better word, feel too caricatured.
“The 1980 were not a very beautiful decade,” Lorain admits. “So we had to be very careful not to go overboard, because things could look like a late-night sketch very fast. [Because if] this story happened very close to us, it echoes all throughout the world right now.”
Founded by Lorain and Durand-Brault in 2019, Also Productions has quickly emerged as a leader in Quebecois scripted drama. At this year’s Series Mania, the producers will also present “Mégantic” – which tracks the fallout of a 2013 oil disaster in the town of Lac-Mégantic – as part the Coming Next from Quebec showcase, while back home, they have just began production on season three of “The Sketch Artist.”
A police drama created by Lorain and Durand-Brault, and starring Lorain alongside acclaimed playwright Rachel Graton and Quebecois stalwart Rémy Girard (of “The Barbarian Invasions” and “Incendies”), the series’ previous two seasons aired to blockbuster numbers back home before selling to more than twenty territories worldwide. Global Series Network’s boutique VOD service Walter Presents has picked up broadcast rights in the U.S. and U.K., while Lorain and Durand-Brault are currently developing an English language remake.
“We’re trying to spread our wings,” says Lorain. “We want to cater to broader audiences, because we think we have the talent and the know how. What we need, right now, are international partners.”
Best of Variety
Final Oscars Predictions: Animated Short - Will the Academy Go for 'The Boy' or 'Dicks?'
Final Oscar Predictions: Documentary Short - Will the Academy Go for Malala or 'Elephants?'
Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.