Directed by: James Schamus – Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfield, Pico Alexander, Philip Ettinger, Noah Robbins
Never has a movie’s title so perfectly described the tone of it, as there is not one single character in this that isn’t indignant about something!
Using the Korean War as a backdrop, a working-class Jewish student, Marcus (Lerman), leaves his home in Newark, New Jersey, to attend a small college in Ohio, while some of his friends go off to fight. He’s not there long, when he meets the beguiling Olivia (Gadon).
Although initially thinking that she is out of his league, the pair go on a date, following which he gets a very unexpected sexual awakening. However, word of Olivia’s dalliance spreads, and soon Marcus is forced to confront the school dean (Letts) about how society’s belief system fits into the world of academia.
This boasts some fabulous performances, not least from Lerman and Letts in their showdown, and the sets and costumes totally capture the feel of the era. The cinematography is wonderful and it is incredibly atmospheric.
But, and there is a but, Indignation is extremely wordy, and consists of massive amounts of dialogue and exposition. It’s based on a Phillip Roth book, and it’s almost as if they just took it off the page word for word, as, at times, this feels like you are watching a novel rather than a movie!
If it had been based on a play I would understand, as that medium is very much driven by the dialogue, but I did feel that at times they really underestimated the audience’s capability to comprehend the plot, so felt they had to explain everything to us. For me personally, this became quite tedious, as all of the characters are extremely complex, so to have each one break down their motivation, and explain it on numerous occasions, is rather draining.
The kind of movie that requires your full focus, Indignation would have been much better if debut feature director, Schamus had more faith in his audience’s ability to comprehend the visuals and subtle nuances, and didn’t spell everything out to us.
However, it is worth a look for the showdown scene. I forsee many male acting students borrowing from Indignation for their monologue in the coming months.
In Cinemas Now! See trailer below: