Indignation (2016)

Cast includes: Logan Lerman (Fury), Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method), Tracy Letts (The Big Short), Ben Rosenfield (Irrational Man)
Director: James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain)
Genre: Drama based on the novel by Philip Roth (110 minutes)


Huffington Post

When the nurse wakes Mrs. Anderson for her pills, we notice the old lady’s gaze… possibly finding a memory in the floral wallpaper. “It’s important to understand about dying… the chain of events… the decisions you have personally made…” Young Jonah Green meets his death in Korea. “He always looked up to you, Marcus,” says Jonah’s dad. “The only thing worse than dying is dying a virgin,” Marcus tells his friends. “Green was definitely a virgin.” Marcus is no man of the world, either. “Markey, two chickens for Mrs. Davidovich.” Markey is a good son working in his dad’s kosher butcher shop. He’ll be missed when he goes to Weinsburg College in Ohio. Dad doesn’t even want Markey going to the pictures after work. “I know where you’re really going… the pool hall.” Marcus comes right home after the pictures, but Dad’s out. “Your father went looking for you. He’s worried crazy… if anything were to happen to you…” Maybe it’s because they lost family during the war, but Dad always anticipates the worst.

“Just be careful,” Dad says as Marcus heads off to Ohio. Jenkins 211 is Marcus’s room assignment… is it a coincidence that his two roommates are both Jewish? “Fear not, the spirit of Winesburg is alive and well…” and can be found every week in chapel… “Attendance required to graduate.” Nothing much moves Marcus though until he catches a glimpse of Olivia Hutton in the library. She is clearly not here on a scholarship like Marcus is. She’s a vision… all blond, beautiful and pastel. Marcus obviously has nothing in common with her, but he asks her on a date anyway… borrowing his roommate’s 1940 LaSalle. He chooses the fanciest French restaurant in town… the escargot is clearly not kosher. “Hey, relax. You’re so intense,” says Olivia and she truly wants to know all about Marcus and his family. Marcus had imagined that he’d be the one trying to please Olivia, but actually, it turned out to be the other way around. In fact, it is Olivia who suggests the little detour that takes them into the cemetery where they park. “What happened next,” Marcus tells us… “I puzzled over for weeks… fostering misunderstandings and grief.”

 “There are no girls like Olivia Hutton in Newark.” Marcus can hardly bring himself to even think about Newark, but Newark is thinking about him. His dad especially sounds more worried on every phone call. Mom and Dad don’t understand why Marcus has spurned the Jewish fraternity. “What’s wrong with making some Jewish friends?” And then there are Marcus’s Jewish roommates… things don’t go so well with them. In fact, his roommate issues lead to a confrontation with Dean Caudwell… one of the most interesting scenes of the entire film. Anti-Semitism is alive and well at Winesburg College… although, if you believe Dean Caudwell, it’s all in Marcus’s head. Based on a novel by Philip Roth, Indignation explores the unacknowledged culture clash in America, during an era when young adults didn’t automatically following in their parents’ footsteps. It’s a beautiful period film and an enjoyable couple of hours, even if there are a few story lines that never quite go anywhere. We mostly get Marcus’s view, but Christians have challenges with changes in the status quo, too. “Where do you get spiritual sustenance?” Dean Caudwell wants to know when Marcus objects to chapel attendance. Marcus doesn’t always have good answers. “I’ve been in a confused state of mind ever since I got to this place.”

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

A culture clash when a Jewish scholarship student tries to fit in at a middle-American college

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language, Sexual Content)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Art House 
Mood: Neutral
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Jewish student at a Christian college
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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