James Schamus is known for lots of things. Award-winning screenwriter, CEO of Focus Features and professor at Columbia University. Now, he can also add director to his impressive resumé.
Adapted by the Philip Roth novel, Indignation follows Marcus Messier (Logan Lerman), a Jewish college student in 1950s Winesberg, Ohio. He becomes interested in classmate Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gabon), a suicide survivor. As cracks in their relationship form, Marcus becomes increasingly confrontational towards his peers and teachers.
Premiered at this year’s Sundance, the film is visually dark and intense. Accompanied by a powerful screenplay and haunting score, Schamus and Inbal Weinberg’s production design create a stylish setting, whose glamour and class creates a falsely harmonious environment that becomes increasingly stifling.
Dealing with his father’s paranoia and his sexual inexperience, Marcus’s emotional troubles are evident from the offset. Lerman is compelling as the detached protagonist, who seems to create confrontation through his seriousness. All of this anger culminates in a staggering argument between him and Dean Caudwell (Tracey Letts), which is delivered with an intensity that leaves audiences reeling. In contrast, Olivia keeps her emotions close to her chest. Gabon creates a quietly emotive character though small mannerisms and innocent smiles, while controlling her blonde bombshell-like sexuality.
As a directorial debut, Schamus’s Indignation is a stunning, deeply affecting piece with a powerful performance from Lerman.
Director: James Schamus
Stars: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracey Letts, Pico Alexander, Danny Burstein
Runtime: 110 minutes