Saturday, October 22, 2016

American Pastoral

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Phillip Roth, this new drama fails to live up to the depth and impact of the book.

Directed by and starring Ewan McGregor, it is the story of a family torn apart during the turbulent '60's. Mr. McGregor plays Seymour "Swede" Lovov, a successful Jewish businessman living in the New Jersey Suburbs. His non-Jewish wife, Gwen, is played by Jennifer Connelly and their daughter, Merry (from 16 on) is played by Dakota Fanning. The film also co-stars Peter Riegert as Seymour's father, Molly Parker as a therapist and Uzo Aduba as Vicky, a senior employee at Seymour's Glove factory.

Mr. McGregor's direction is pretty straight forward with a literal eye for the screenplay. He and his team capture the look and feel of the '60's with an assist from archival footage. The acting is good but the real problem here lies in the screenplay. 

The script by John Romano edits out the depth and richness of the novel, breaking it down into key moments  that propel the film through it's heartbreaking story. This doesn't do any justice to the characters or their circumstances. Everything plays out rather superficially with an illusion of depth.  

The film is slow to start but after a life changing moment, the pace does pick up a bit. However, unless you are the father of a daughter (I totally understood Seymour's pain), you may find yourself losing interest in the story.

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