Indignation

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Precious Doll
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Re: Indignation

Postby Precious Doll » Sun Aug 21, 2016 2:35 am

I hadn't read Mister Tee's or BJ's comments as I knew I was seeing the film and wanted view it without really knowing anything about it.

I had seen the trailer about 4 weeks ago at the cinema and thought the film looked interesting. Must say I was somewhat disappointed. It never really connected to me at all. The Korean War angle felt forced and the relationship between Logan Lerman & Sarah Gadon's characters felt like nothing more that a clumsily concived plot device. The scenes between Lerman & Tracey Letts were even worse! Silly and pompous.

Thankfully Linda Emond saved the day as Lerman's mother and her scene with him towards the end of the film in the highpoint.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: Indignation

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:24 pm

This is the kind of movie where I left the theater thinking, I'm not totally certain what my response to this film is, but it sure felt like I'd eaten a full meal after a year full of junk food. (And mostly stale junk food, at that.) I would agree that Schamus isn't yet a director with great visual confidence -- at times the film shares similarities in style/milieu to recent movies like Carol and A Serious Man, and the comparison to top filmmakers at the top of their game makes Indignation feel a bit limited as a result. And though I grant that discussing the female characters in Philip Roth's work requires opening a huge can of worms, I do think the characterization of Olivia errs a bit on the side of tragic male fantasy rather than fully complex woman.

But on the whole, the writing is very strong, with effective dialogue ranging from good one-liners ("How will you keep kosher?") to a number of great two-handers (the first Marcus/Olivia date, the scene with Marcus and his mother that Mister Tee cites, and especially that big face-off between Marcus and Caudwell in his office, which is like a great boxing match of intellectual sparring between two characters of very different generations.) And by the end of the movie, it has built to enormous power -- I found the film's final few scenes, as the domino effect of events lead Marcus and Olivia to their ultimate fates, hit me with a surprising amount of impact. The movie's subdued tone throughout much of its running time ultimately amounts to a slowly simmering pot of water that suddenly starts to boil. (I haven't read Roth's novel, but my understanding is that the ending is revealed pretty early on in the story -- I thought the movie's structuring device was quite effective at withholding some key information that made its finale land so well.)

I agree the performances throughout are strong as well. Logan Lerman continues to build on the promise he showed in Perks of Being a Wallflower, Sarah Gadon brings life to a character that verges a bit on device, Burstein and Emond (reunited again after playing the older couple in the recent Cabaret revival) find fresh detail in familiar types, and though Letts's big scene would certainly be a gift to any actor, he has a blast with it.

Well worth seeing, something you could say about too few films this year. It's also noteworthy that this will be a year with multiple Philip Roth adaptations, as American Pastoral hits screens later in the year.

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Indignation

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:35 pm

I'm starting a thread for this film because it's cause for celebration: the first film I've seen in months that features well-drawn characters, bracing dialogue and unpredictable human behavior. It's not perfect -- the first couple of scenes are wobbly, which made me briefly doubt James Schamus' conviction in the director's chair; there's a device that's a bit too obvious in the way it's going to go south, which makes the film's finish a bit abrupt (though the final shot is glorious). But in between there are some of the best acted and written dialogue scenes I've see in some time. Logan Lerman finds just the right balance, giving us a character at once green/uncertain and full of conviction about how much smarter he is than everyone else. Sarah Gadon suggests both the appeal and the danger in her character. And Tracey Letts and Linda Emond are both superb, each delivering a scene that in a just world would would get them supporting nominations.

Those scenes are of course also propelled by the dialogue -- much, I assume, directly from Roth, but rendered with conviction by Schamus. Throughout, I was aware of the quality of the writing -- not just the precision of the words, but how the scenes went in slightly unexpected directions (in Emond's big scene, I grasped what she was going to do, but was wrong about the reason why). This is really good screenwriting -- the kind I could see the writers' branch singling out even if the film doesn't do anything with other Oscar voters.

I can't say how good this film would have looked to me in the midst of a stellar year, like 2012 or 2013. But right now, it's a reminder that movies as I cherish them still occasionally exist.


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