James Schamus has produced some of the best American art films of the past few decades, working with directors Todd Solondz, Edward Burns, Todd Haynes, Cindy Sherman and, most significantly, Ang Lee. To write and direct his first film without big stars and to base it on a Philip Roth novella is a risky undertaking. Schamus’ Indignation proves that he has learned his lessons well. The film makes the most of the book’s first-person narration through neatly composed close-ups and is well steeped in authentic fifties ambiance (hues of brown and tan, sweater vests, and wood-paneled libraries). Set in 1951, the film’s cast does a fine job of conveying Roth’s wryly critical vision of a conformist decade bedeviled by confused attitudes about sexuality.
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