The coming-of-age drama, set during the time of the Korean War, centers on a Jewish college student (played by Logan Lerman) who transfers from New Jersey to Ohio to escape his increasingly paranoid father. At his new school, he falls in love with a fellow student (Sarah Gadon), but then enters into an adversarial relationship with the college dean (Tracy Letts) over school rules with regard to chapel attendance, leading to tragic consequences.
This is the directorial feature film debut of James Schamus, former CEO of Focus Features. In an interview with Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times, Schamus joked “The desire to direct is a disease that tends to strike late-middle-aged producers and I’m not immune to that disease.” A veteran of writing screenplay adaptations (The Ice Storm, Lust, Caution, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Schamus said of adapting Indignation’s screenplay from Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, “A film lives or dies not by whether it’s a good adaptation but by whetjer it’s a convincing interpretation. As a screenwriter you’re always interpreting. You can’t just do the book.”
The film, which captures the insidious prejudices and repressive morality of the time period, premiered to strong reviews at Sundance Sunday night at the Eccles Theater. According to Deadline, a dean’s office face-off between Lerman and Letts “brought down the house” at the screening. Is it too early to talk about Oscar buzz for 2017?
Anthony Bregman, Schamus and Rodrigo Teixeira produced Indignation.