Oscar-winning producer James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain) makes his directorial debut with the 1950’s set period piece, ‘Indignation’ based on the novel by author Philip Roth.
Despite the compelling base story and the talent between both Logan Lerman and costar Toronto native Sarah Gadon the film moves at a snails pace. Lerman portrays Marcus Messner, a middle class Jewish boy whose father incessantly worries about the Korean War draft and the safety of his son. Marcus escapes the draft by accepting a scholarship to a small religious college in Ohio. In attendance is the attractive, mysterious coed Olivia Hutton (Gadon).
The pair make an instant connection as both are extremely out of place in their new environments regardless of their obvious differences, what with Olivia’s emotional instability and failed suicide attempts, while Messner has a very modest reserve that leaves him out of his element when he realizes she a confident sexual being.
With characters so unique it’s amazing how boring the film gets once we are past the first act. We are thrown into extremely drawn out scenes with failed, but noticeable attempts at tension. Both Hutton and Lerman’s greatest moments of dialogue come in the form of a voice over, which is a shame as both actors deserved more.
Regardless of the uncomfortably slow pace, Schamus nails the suffocating look of 1950’s American academia, and manages to wrap the film up beautifully with a monologue that explains everything that happens between the beginning sequence and the end. You could easily watch the first and last 10 minutes of the film and you’d get a brilliant short story about a love lost due to war and words unsaid, instead of the two hours spent coming to the exact same conclusion.