Sunday, 6 November 2016


An economy of style with a maximum effect, James Schamus' Indignation is a sensitive and sensible work of solid dramatic art. Those seeking anything so radical as the Philip Roth novel upon which this film is based may return to its pages - Schamus distils Roth's verve and situates it square in the centre of the wan underbelly of a culture of banality. This is direct, seemingly uncomplicated filmmaking, and all the more effective for that, since not only does Schamus enable himself to establish his thematic and emotional concerns with force and clarity, he also dupes his audience into underestimating his film. With elegant subtlety and simplicity, he guides us through a narrative whose full corrosive power we, as our affable, misguided, intelligent yet fundamentally naive protagonist, cannot fully comprehend. Schamus turns Indignation into the film we want it to be, or expect it to be, but only in our hopeful heads; in reality, it's only the film it needs to be. His techniques are essentially cinematic, in that manner most overlooked by so many more experienced filmmakers - a close camera and excellent visual craftsmanship emphasize intimacy and interiority, rather than broad, blustery expanses of emotion and space. As cinema's potential for grand extroversion exists on the screen, it's the medium's oft-untapped potential for quiet, private, personal expressions, existing in its consumption, that Schamus here exploits. It's the very opposite of theatricality, in that, though theatre may be inherently limited in its physical scope, its consumption necessitates a more ostentatious expression; Indignation's inverse is far more affecting an approach, a modesty that is troubling and moving in its impact, and extremely impressive in its construction.