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Indignation (2016)
September 5, 2016, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Schamus
4.5 Stars
IndignationMarcus Messner (Logan Lerman), the protagonist of the latest attempt to successfully bring Philip Roth to the screen, is a thoughtful young man whose tempered fury begins to boil over when he comes to fully realize his entrapment by a variety of institutions. No better is this exemplified than when, in the film’s key scene, Messner and the dean of the liberal arts college he’s attending (Tracy Letts) get into a verbal sparring match about the former’s atheism and his reluctance to fit into the conventions of college living—to the dean, the boys atheism has much to do with the fact that he was unable to successfully cohabitate in a dorm and is reluctant to try out for the school’s basketball team. That Messner chose this route as an alternative to fighting in Korea makes it clear that, no matter which road he took, he would be at someone else’s mercy. The great thing about Indignation is that it doesn’t entirely applaud his sense of righteousness—he is naïve if anything, as when he shows his horror at accidentally bringing a date to a French restaurant that specializes in escargot. Sarah Gadon is fittingly mystifying as the young woman whose own problems with conservatism have led her to being brandished with a multitude of stigmas, but the character (as is a common criticism of female characters in Roth) is undercooked. Director James Schamus recalls Todd Haynes in his stripped-down visual style, not so much fetishizing the period detail as insisting upon its bareness. His protagonist is just at the age of utterly denying that very setting, and as such the film is rife with an undercurrent of tension and fury, exploding beautifully in the aforementioned conversation with the dean as well as a later scene with his disapproving mother (Linda Emond).

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