INDIGNATION — Review by Susan Granger

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Retaining authenticity in adapting Philip Roth novels has often been a problem, as evidenced in “The Human Stain,” “Elegy” and “The Humbling.” So “Indignation” at least has veracity going for it. Set in 1951, this coming-of-age story revolves around industrious Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman), a working-class Jewish teenager from Newark, New Jersey, who earns a scholarship to a small, Christian college in Ohio, primarily to avoid being drafted and sent to fight in the Korean War. Read om…

The only son of Max (Danny Burstein), a kosher butcher, and his formidable wife Esther (Linda Emond), neurotic Marcus immediately resents being forced to share a dorm room with two other minority/Jewish students (Philip Ettinger, Ben Rosenfield) and refuses to join the only Jewish fraternity.

Then he’s totally bewildered by the casual sexual promiscuity of his WASPy crush, self-destructive Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), who gives him oral sex on their first date after he takes her to dinner at a fancy French restaurant.

The most volatile – and memorable – scene occurs when resolute, rebellious Marcus confronts Winesburg College’s domineering Dean Hawes Caudwell (Tracy Letts) about his pervasive, condescending anti-Semitism, alluding to British philosopher Bertrand Russell’s famous essay, “Why I Am Not a Christian.”

“You are destined to be an outstanding lawyer,” hypocritical Caudwell grimly concedes.

As former CEO and co-founder of Focus Features, James Schamus firmly established his preference for high-quality, arthouse-audience films like “The Ice Storm,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Lost in Translation,” “Far From Heaven” and “A Serious Man.”

Now, making his writing/directing debut, Schamus is obviously besotted by showing how his young adult protagonist encounters and explores the social paranoia of the post-WWII Jewish experience. And Logan Lerman (“Percy Jackson” films, “Fury”) rises to the challenging, deeply-textured role.

But the intense edginess is episodic, adhering to a careful, perhaps overly-cautious rhythm.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Indignation” is an admirable but tedious 6, serving as a tragic reminder of consequences of America’s once-prevalent, puritanical moral conformity.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.