Indignation review: A moody but glacially slow Philip Roth adaptation

James Luxford

The normally wide-eyed young actor Logan Lerman gets cynical for this 50s drama. He plays Marcus, a gifted but self-isolating college student from Newark dealing with life and relationships against the backdrop of the Korean War.

Like last week's American Pastoral, Indignation is an adaptation of a Phillip Roth novel made by a first time director (Ang Lee collaborator James Schamus). Like that film, the execution is a mixed bag. Marcus' romantic and spiritual battles are often intriguing, but move so slowly that it's hard to feel gripped. Nevertheless the characters are well crafted and the mood suitably nostalgic.

The strength is in the performances, which rise above coming-of-age norms and are fleshed out in a manner you rarely find in films of this type. Lerman keeps a fine balance with his character's intellect – focused and precocious but never irritatingly so. He is well met by Sarah Gadon as Marcus' love interest, never leaning on the tropes of a troubled character and providing some of the more eloquent speeches in the film.

Glacial pacing aside, this is a solid, quietly rewarding coming of age tale.

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