Indignation is a fascinating film, mostly because of how un-cinematic it is. The ’50s set coming of age story feels like a play, from its deliberately static scene structure to the strength of its performers. While the film doesn’t quite take advantage of its medium, it does feature a gloriously psychological screenplay, delivered by an incredible ensemble featuring Logan Lerman in one of the best performances of the year.
Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) is a working class Jewish butcher, free from the threat of the draft when he’s given a scholarship to a prestigious university. Messner soon falls in love with Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), a young girl who’s nature proves to be a stark contrast from his Marcus’s sheltered adolescence. As Marcus is drawn into a new and strange world, he struggles with sexual repression, his secret atheism, a deteriorating family life, and the decisions that shape his manhood.
Logan Lerman is extrodinary here, combining the best of his natural ability to convey innocence with the characterization of a man truly disabled by his own brilliance. The film focuses on a few core emotional scenes, and Lerman excels in every one of them. While the continuous focus on intense character interaction an drag, the scenes are shot with such intensity and simplicity that they’re instantly compelling.
Indignation is an ideal concept for a play, and while it’s beautiful in its simplicity, it’s also limited by it. The dialogue is wonderfully intellectual, and although it can occasionally get lost in its intellectual discussion, there a fair amount of emotional depth to manage. It’s an interesting experiment of a film, and a great showcase for the brilliant Logan Lerman. Grade: B