*NEW* INDIGNATION REVIEW *NEW*

indignation

A stellar turn from Lerman and good chemistry makes this uneven coming of age drama one to watch.

In 1951, Marcus (Logan Lerman), a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, attends a small Ohio college, where he struggles with sexual repression and cultural disaffection, amid the ongoing Korean War.

I’m not familiar with Philip Roth’s works so I can’t make comparisons on the film’s adaptation of his 29th novel BUT it was a well acted, if tragically patchy affair.

This was a perfect transition for the Percy Jackson star. Proving that he will be one to watch in the future. I know some of you will be more familiar with Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (A film I have yet to watch) BUT I felt his character was too passive to make an impression in Fury.

However, he was a charismatic lead that carried the story when the pace tragically dragged. Context is crucial when approaching this piece. The backdrop of the Korean War became a tipping point for a clash in values and (most importantly) beliefs.

We follow Marcus as he escapes the call to war and the overbearing shadow of his overanxious father (Danny Burstein – Boardwalk Empire). A man troubled by the turn in tide and loss of life.

I did find myself fidgeting a little through all the intellectual academia anecdotes as Marcus tries to shy away from his heritage. BUT by doing so; he is soon under the watchful eye of a prospective Jewish fraternity and designated to a dorm with the only Jews on campus. Well, according to his high strung room mate Bertram Flusser anyway.

Ben Rosenfield (Irrational Man) was highly entertaining as Flusser. Outspoken and he doesn’t care who knows. Blaring classical music to the masses and sharing his views whether you want to hear them or NOT.

“There were no girls like Olivia Hutton back in Newark”.

BUT beneath all the (endless) Bertrand Russell (A renowned social critic. Yeah. I had to do some research after viewing) quotations and heated societal debates, there was still a boy meets girl love story at its core.

The lovely Sarah Gadon (Stephen King’s 11.22.63) delivered an engaging performance as the mysterious Olivia. The girl that would trigger Marcus’ sexual awakening in an age of repression. A much needed presence.

The pair had great chemistry and I was happy to persevere as their romance blossomed. Her upfront approach in sex was a complete culture shock for the timid Marcus. Putting it down to her parents’ divorce.

However as we got to watch their relationship grow, the pair soon opened up and we got a better insight into Olivia’s past. Punished with a “reputation” for her promiscuity. A reputation that threatened to cause a rift between Marcus’ friends and family.

Tracey Letts (Homeland) was excellent as the scrupulous Dean Caudwell. His casual conversations nothing more than preaching. Enforcing his values on Marcus. Believing the boy to have “lost his way”. Interrogating him on the exact details of his familiarity with Olivia and even his own beliefs.

Right down to why he didn’t put down on his application that his father was a kosher butcher? A ploy to hide his religion? Every question suggesting an ulterior motive. Making assumptions about the headstrong protagonist. The heated exchanges were quite riveting to watch and really showed Lerman’s potential with James Schamus’ dialogue coming to life.

Indignation certainly made an interesting contrast to the present day. Religion, divorce and sexual expression are still rife BUT have thankfully shown a lot more progression and acceptance compared to the fifties.

BUT it was all a little too “talky talky” for my liking. The premise felt like something more suitable for a TV movie or (even better) as a theatrical performance.

It didn’t help that when things seemed to reach boiling point with Marcus having to make a decision, it ended so abruptly and on such a bleak note that I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Despite some great performances from some underrated actors, I fear this arduous affair may get lost in the ranks.

2.5/5

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*NEW* IRRATIONAL MAN REVIEW *NEW*


irrational_man

Just like the protagonist. Strange, dark and all over the place.

A tormented philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix – Walk The Line) finds a will to live when he commits an existential act.

“All we do is talk, talk, talk”. I should have known what to expect from an Allen flick. The guy loves to talk. After watching Irrational Man, I’ve finally accepted that I’m NOT the biggest Woody Allen fan. BUT at least it featured one of Phoenix’s best performances.

The mind numbing opening didn’t really build my hopes up with Phoenix’s troubled Abe waffling on about morality and aesthetics. I felt like I was sitting in a philosophical lecture. Yikes.

The premise was hardly original. A radical professor shakes up the quiet life of a high school academic achiever. The first act trundled along at an easygoing pace with the predictable and nauseating romance blossoming between Emma Stone (The Help) and Phoenix.

The pair had good chemistry BUT somehow Stone just grated against me. Her role nothing more than an audition to be the next Diane Keaton. Strong willed and independent in one frame. Annoying and a chatterbox, the next.

You couldn’t find a better choice for an irrational man than Joaquin Phoenix. He really did carry the piece. There were moments to be had as he tried to avoid the flirtatious advances of his work colleague (played brilliantly by Parker Posey – Superman Returns). He even churned out some quick witted one liners; referring to his own philosophical theories as “verbal masturbation”.

His path to destruction made for engaging viewing. A man truly on the brink. Teaching his students a lesson in existentialism with a loaded gun and a game of Russian roulette.

BUT it was all a little too slow and pretentious for my liking. Listening to Phoenix’s philosophical ramblings and watching Stone inevitably fall for him while bleating on to her long suffering boyfriend (Jamie Blackley – If I Stay) really did test me.

However, my interest was finally peaked when the film went in a completely different direction. A change in tone and Abe’s character transformed a typical Allen rom-com into a black comedy.

My griping was soon put on hold as Abe set out on a moral crusade to punish a judge after overhearing a custody battle conversation at a diner. Random, strange BUT intriguing.

A slow burning stake out unfolded as Abe contemplated seeking justice on the small town judge. The dark thoughts turning into actions as our irrational man tries to rationalize this insane situation and the aftermath that inevitably followed.

The only problem was that, despite this much needed change in pace and tone, it was all a little mismatched. Too light and easygoing to be taken seriously. And even when things finally took a darker turn with Abe’s crusade and demented new lease on life, the end result was flat and didn’t really deliver after all the promise.

I could appreciate the irony of it all BUT it was all over the place. A watchable mess. It didn’t help that the leads’ chemistry wasn’t strong enough for me to care by the finale. Shame.

A sterling turn from Phoenix and a strange premise did enough to keep me watching BUT I won’t be taking this class again any time soon.

2.5/5