‘Indignation’ BluRay Review: An Engrossing Period Piece
In 1951 Ohio, a Jewish boy from Newark attends college and meets the girl who will change the rest of his life.
Opening in a nursing home, we meet Olivia (Sarah Gadon) for the first time, preparing us for a look back in time. The scene instantly changes to a Korean war scene with Marcus (Logan Lerman) acting as narrator explaining the nature of death. As he’s explaining all the things that have to align in order for someone to die, a young American boy gets killed.
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Marcus, a friend of Jonah the fallen soldier, is beckoned by Jonah’s mother and tells him how much Jonah looked up to him. She pleads for him to figure out a way not to be drafted. Marcus’ parents inform her he’ll be going to college in Ohio.
Marcus Messner is an intelligent butcher’s son who is attending college on an academic scholarship. Many of his peers do not have the opportunity to attend college, mostly for financial reasons. This is Marcus’s chance to follow his dreams and not have to serve in the war or takeover the butcher shop. Also, despite being raised Jewish, Marcus identifies as atheist and doesn’t respect organized religion at all.
With boys from his town dying, Marcus’ father (Danny Burnstein) is extremely worried even though he isn’t going to war but he’s going far away. It seems understandable at first but eventually Mrs. Messner (Linda Emond) and Marcus contemplate a bigger issue.
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Marcus arrives at college and meets his roommates, two juniors who are also Jewish but weren’t let into the only jewish frat on campus. One of the roommates Bert can see this isn’t a coincidence. He also learns that his new school is religious and they require all students to attend chapel ten times a year in order to graduate.
Marcus is excelling in his classes. He’s strong-willed and outspoken but always respectful.
A female classmate notices him and then he notices her while he works his job at the library. He borrows his other roommates’ car to ask her on a date.
He’s smitten with Olivia immediately. Olivia comes from a wealthy family and her parents are divorced. She’s way more experienced than him and she makes the first move after their first date.
Marcus is perplexed by her forwardness and comes off as unappreciative and judgmental, mostly concerned with how many times Olivia has behaved this way with other guys.. He assumes that she acts the way she does because her parents are divorced.
After ignoring her in class, Olivia confronts him at the library and is spot on with what she thinks he’s feeling. She calls him out for thinking she’s a slut but also pleads with him that she just likes him so much and wanted to do give him pleasure. He’s unable to respond in a way that’s satisfactory to her, and he could have easily just said that he’s never had any sort of sexual encounter with a woman…ever. He decides to write her a letter to explain better and to tell her he would still like to be friends. They continue writing back and forth despite being in the same classes and she shares that she was in a mental hospital because she tried to kill herself before transferring out of her last school. She tells him that he’s too good for the school and she only came there because it’s so boring.
After being teased by his roommates for associating with a Olivia, who indeed has the reputation of being with all the guys on campus, Marcus moves into a new dorm.
Despite what he’s learned, it’s clear that he’s falling in love and not having her company since their date is hard for him. He and Olivia are soon on good terms again, after he asks her to please sit next to him in class again so he can concentrate.
He had to meet with the Dean after switching rooms but it seems that the Dean really wants to know why he didn’t write Judaism under religious preference and what that means for him. The Dean is being obnoxious and asking irrelevant questions. Marcus, given his outspoken personality, does not just sit and take this interrogation. This whole scene was entirely too long and the Dean mischaracterizes Marcus as a loner and troublemaker who feels the need to prove how much smarter he is than everyone else. The Dean continues prodding him and telling him he needs to find a better way to fit in. Marcus vomits and passes out, it turns out his appendix burst.
Olivia visits him in the hospital. He seems a lot more comfortable with her shows of affection. However, the nurse walks in on them and Marcus freaks out again.
They’re finally able to really get to know each other during Marcus’ stay at the hospital. Olivia is amazed by his humble upbringings, compares him to Abraham Lincoln. She then gets defensive and refuses to talk about her own father. The way her mood seems to change so quickly gives Marcus a look into her mental fragility.
Marcus’s mother arrives to visit him and tells him his father isn’t becoming any more relaxed now that his son is settled at school. She’s concerned that he’s going crazy. She’s considering a divorce. She says she doesn’t love him anymore and she’s already seen a lawyer.
His mother meets Olivia and is not impressed. She asks Marcus to stop seeing her. She doesn’t care that she’s not Jewish or that she’s rich but the fact she has a scar from slitting her wrist. He promises to end the relationship.
Marcus’s decision to end the relationship starts a chain reaction leaving both Marcus and Olivia with heartbreaking endings.
An engrossing period piece, Indignation is a powerful story about love and family, and how the smallest choices can cause irreparable consequences.
Special features include two featurettes. One entitled “Timeless: Connecting the Past to the Present,” and the other “Perceptions: Bringing Philip Roth to the Screen.”
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