Indignation - Mild Umbrage
| It is the 50s, a young Jewish man goes to college, first in his family, struggles with awakening sexuality and romantic feelings, faces obstacles due to his atheism. It is a compelling tale, and Logan Lerman shows off his great potential to be a leading man, but the film often struggles to find its energy.
Screen-writer and producer James Schamus struggles with his first directing feature to find a voice. Often Indignation feels pedestrian, like it's walking through its story without confidence. I wanted to feel passion, the passion underlying the surface of all the placid modernity that lead character Marcus is drowning in.
He finds a beautiful kind of confusing love with a young woman everyone sees as damaged. Things don't go well, but in that sort of lovely way where we wish the world was better to allow things that are broken to find their own value. We see it but it feels like Schamus isn't sure we are getting it. So he has his characters talk to each other to explain how they are feeling. It ends up being a distracting method which takes us out of the film a bit.
There are two scenes where this approach yields the opposite results. They involve Marcus arguing with his Dean. In these scenes the film burst into passionate, if stoically intellectual, life. And for a few moments some of that passion is visible. But I wished I could have believed more of it during the rest of the film too. Schamus ends on a rather "gotcha" moment which feels a bit contrived. I wish the film had been told more as a series of flashbacks setting out how Marcus and Olivia end up where they do. Their present story could have been tied more closely to their past, but instead it feels more like an afterthought.
Indignation is watchable and offers some truly lovely moments. But it just didn't gel for me in a convincing way.