Never has a movie left me so bewildered. Correction – The Room was more baffling, but nevertheless, the latest Logan Lerman film left me reeling. There are flickers of brilliance throughout Indignation, but it quickly fades away with some truly bizarre tonal shifts.
Based on the popular novel by Philip Roth, the story takes place in early 1950’s Ohio with future scholar Marcus (Lerman). We follow his introduction to the university lifestyle and his pursuit of a law degree, but this quickly makes way for his growing infatuation with one Ms. Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon). Writer and debutant director James Schamus uses these two central characters to explore various ideas of religion, love, and death but fails to provide any clarity on each subject.
Indeed, the largest gripe I have with this film is its clarity. In the space of a few minutes, the role of religion alongside science is explored, then in the next few, we are introduced to the frowned upon practice of divorce during a conservative time. I was left to constantly ask myself; what is the point of this scene? And, more importantly; what does the film want me to take away?
Where the film does succeed is in its intellectual discussions, with one of the most enjoyable being a lengthy debate between a student and the dean. Unfortunately, these scenes feel entirely out of place, especially when closely followed by profound sexual acts between the romantic leads. The timing and placement of each scene within the overall narrative of the film leave you to wonder how exactly you should be reacting. I often didn’t know whether to laugh or be sympathetic.
Fitting with the title, I very much came away annoyed by the film’s confusing nature. There was so much potential here, and with a clearer directorial vision, I may have been able to go along with it.