Are you an outsider or just different?
In 1951, the Korean War, now in its second year, hangs heavy over Newark, New Jersey. Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) attends the funeral of his classmate Jonah Greenberg, the most recent victim of the conflict. For his community and family, Marcus has been chosen to avoid the dangers of the draft and the pitfalls of his working-class background by being, as Mrs. Greenberg exclaims, “such a clever boy.” With a scholarship from his temple to attend Winesburg College, Marcus will soon say goodbye to Newark and his family’s kosher butcher shop in which his father Max (Danny Burstein) and his mother Esther (Linda Emond) work. While he is loath to admit it, Marcus also looks forward to escaping his father’s nearly obsessive worrying over his safety and fate.
Among the manicured lawns and leafy paths of Winesburg College, Marcus takes his role as student quite seriously. While not unfriendly, he is uninterested in the social lives of his two roommates, the artistically effusive Betram Flusser (Ben Rosenfield) and buttoned-down Ron Foxman (Philip Ettinger), the two other Jewish men in the dorms. Nor does Marcus have any interest in joining Winesburg’s one Jewish fraternity Zeta Tau Mu, even after its president, the charismatic Sonny Cottler (Pico Alexander), and his acolyte Marty Ziegler (Noah Robbins) make a personal call to recruit him. With his academic pursuits and his library job filling his days, he has time for little else, especially such unfair obligations as the college’s mandatory weekly Wednesday chapel, which Marcus, as a precocious freethinker, resents.
But Marcus’ best-laid plans become rearranged when he encounters Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon) one evening in the library. Marcus asks her out, borrowing his roommate’s prized 1939 LaSalle Touring Sedan to take her to the town’s one fancy French restaurant, L’Escargot. Charmed by Marcus’ messy mix of academic seriousness and social naiveté, Olivia has him make a detour on the way home. There in the car, Olivia provides the kind of sexual favor Marcus never imagined he would ever receive. Bewildered by her actions, Marcus first attempts to elude dealing with what happened by avoiding Olivia herself. But when she confronts him and refuses to be shamed, her forthrightness makes her all the more appealing, even if she now wants nothing to do with him.
As his obsession deepens, Marcus goes into an emotional tailspin, fighting with his roommates, avoiding news from home about his father’s growing irrational behavior, and becoming indignant at the college’s expectations of him. After a fight with his roommates, Marcus moves into a dilapidated single room, a change that necessitates a tête-à-tête with Dean Caudwell (Tracy Letts), Winesburg’s Dean of Men. Confronted with an authority figure who embodies the rules and traditions which Marcus has grown to hate, he angrily argues with Dean Caudwell, laying out a case for the ways in which the school, his fellow students, and the dean have unfairly imposed social and religious obligations on him. The fury of his argument, however, may ultimately have had more to do with Marcus’ sudden bout of appendicitis in Dean Caudwell’s office than with his growing indignation.
Starring: Logan Lerman Sarah Gadon Tracy Letts Linda Emond Danny Burstein Ben Rosenfield
Written & Directed by James Schamus
INDIGNATION opens August 5
Miami: AMC Aventura, Regal South Beach
Ft. Lauderdale: The Classic Gateway Theatre
Palm Beach County: Living Room Theatres/Boca Raton, Regal Shadowood 16/Boca Raton, Movies of Delray
Additional in Palm Beach County are expected to open August 5. The release will expand into more theaters on August 12.
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UP&CLOSE is hosted by Edgardo Ochoa