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in·dig·na·tion: (n) anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment. It’s a feeling that we have all experienced, especially prevalent in our younger years, partly due to our limited understanding of the motivations of the people around us. Indignation, written and directed by James Schamus and based on a novel by Philip Roth, explores this feeling and its consequences in the life of a young man and his classmates. The perception of unfair treatment is present in many aspects of Marcus’ (Logan Lerman, Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)) life, including his family life, his love life, his social and academic interactions at school and even the war going on across the ocean.

In early-1950’s America, young men had to choose between being drafted or pursuing higher education. Marcus, a teenage boy from a working class Jewish family in New Jersey, plans to attend college in a small town in Ohio made possible by the scholarship he earned. The importance of this decision is made immediately clear because, when the film opens, he is attending the funeral of a childhood friend who was killed while serving in the Korean War. In college Marcus encounters a foreign world that includes religious intolerance, disrespectful roommates and a beautiful promiscuous woman. He meets Olivia (Sarah Gadon, Dracula Untold (2014)) and becomes torn by his concupiscent obsession for her and his lack of ability to handle the relationship. He becomes increasingly impatient with his classmates and school officials. We often see him clashing with Dean Caudwell (Tracy Letts, Homeland) as they eloquently wrangle about school policy. His obsession gets the better of him, and everything quickly falls apart, which results in the perceived unfair treatment becoming a reality.

Indignation provides a much needed break from the typical summer blockbuster and has all of the elements of a great film. An interesting, and well written story combined with a cast that perfectly match their roles. Logan does a particularly masterful job of alternating from an innocent child around his girlfriend to a verbose confident young adult when he faces off with school officials. At times I felt like I was watching a movie written by a well-educated and less violent version of Quentin Tarantino (director of Pulp Fiction (1994)). His long winded ping pong style dialogue is evident in this deliberately paced film, but instead of being interspersed with swears words, Indignation is loaded with vocabulary that would make an English major smile. Have your dictionary ready.

Indignation is streaming now on the following services:
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