13 August 2016 | paul-allaer
Well-written and well-acted drama about college life in the early 50s
"Indignation" (2016 release; 110 min.) brings the early 1950s story of Marcus, a Jersey Jewish kid who's about to go off to college in Ohio. When an older woman learns of this, she responds: "Ohio? How will you keep kosher there?", ha! It's not long before Marcus arrives at the (fictional) Winesburg College in north-central Ohio, where Marcus immerses himself in his studies. But one evening, while working at the library, he notices a strikingly beautiful student. After summoning all of his courage, he finally asks her out for a date... At this point we're not even 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the big screen adaptation of the Philip Roth novel. I haven't read the book so I cannot comment how closely the movie adaptation sticks to the book. This is also the debut of director James Schamus, best know for previously having co-written several of Ang Lee's movies, including "The Ice Storm". Here Schamus brings to life what things were like in the US while the Korean war was raging. Marcus didn't choose to go to college so as to avoid the draft, but because he just loves learning. It is what gives Marcus his identity. However, encountering Olivia changes all that. The movie moves at a slow pace (and I mean that as a complement), certain scenes literally take minutes and minutes to play out. There are several such scenes that are key to the film (Marcus' meeting with the Dean of Students seems to take up at least 10 minutes), allowing plenty of time to examine subject like religious freedom and the at times stifling academic settings on campus. Schamus is able to extract great performances from the leads, Logan Lerman as Marcus and Sarah Gadon as Olivia. But Trace Letts (better known as the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of such (screen)plays as "Killer Joe" and "August: Osage County" ) almost steals the movie as the Dean of Students.
"Indignation" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival to major critical acclaim. The movie finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Saturday early evening screening was PACKED, much to my surprise, Who knew there was such a pent-up demand for this film? The audience absolutely loved the film. It might well be that "Indignation" can become a solid hit on the art-house theater circuit. If you are in the mood for a well-written and well-acted drama about being in college in the early 50s, this movie is just for you. "Indignation" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!