I can’t recall a single film I have seen at Discover Tuesdays at Duke’s at Komedia that has not been worth seeing and Indignation is no exception to this. James Schamus makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Phillip Roth’s 2008 novel of the same name.
Running the Gauntlet
The film follows Jewish teenager Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) as he navigates the trials and tribulations of early adult university life in 1950s Ohio, overly concerned parents, attaining good university grades and love. However, most significantly it focuses on Marcus’s journey of discovery concerning himself in a world where not only does everyone seem to be against him but go out of their way to alter his beliefs, as he attempts to go against the grain.
As a highly academic atheist unafraid to voice his values Marcus constantly finds himself at odds with Winesberg University’s mandatory Christian rituals that must be obeyed in order to receive his degree and his parents’ constant attempts to integrate him with the campus’s Jewish students. Enter Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon) the beautiful, emotionally compelled girl whom Marcus falls for throwing him into a maze of her own. This makes him question all of her actions as to why she would be attracted to someone like him, sexually liberating him and at the same time being his downfall due to his disapproving mother.
Marcus’s abrasive relationship with the school’s rigid system comes to a climax when he and the University’s Dean argue his faith (or lack of), social and romantic conquests and home life. With Marcus under the spotlight the Dean attempts to mould him into the respectable young man he believes all Winesberg students should aspire to become. As the film develops we see Marcus’s rebellious character develop by employing a body double to attend chapel on his behalf; however, his defiance is abruptly ended as his plan is uncovered leading to his expulsion throwing him into the hands of the United States Army destined for Korea.
Taking a trip down memory lane
The performances from both Lerman and Gadon are superb, with them sharing an undeniable chemistry, making the on-screen romance as believable as it is heartbreaking. Seeing them meander through young love your emotions will be played on as much as the characters. You’ll share his frustrations, laugh as he blunders, smile proudly as you remember the first time you took a stand for what you believed and inevitably look back upon your own formative years to the people you first loved and those who never seemed to understand you no matter your attempts to reason with them.
Watching this I hope you’re ready for a nostalgic trip down memory lane!
Reviewed at Duke’s at Komedia Picture House by Marcel Jiménez