My guess is that many people think they can act and after seeing this great movie they will realize that they can’t and never could. Many of us think they can write a screenplay or even great dialogue and after seeing this great movie you will realize that there is a big different between average or run of the mill and greatness in the art of acting and screenwriting. This film is one of the best movies I have ever seen because it has the very rare combination of great acting, dialogue, and screenwriting. I also thought while watching this great film that it seemed to be a throwback to movies that were made in the 40’s and 50’s. In those days, the story, the writing and the acting were the most important and never just special effects like many movies that are made today.
There are so many things that are so impressive about “Indignation” but for me what amazed me the most were the subtlety and simplicity of the storytelling and despite this simplicity, the dialogue and story stayed very complex with symbolism, subtext and messages all the way to the surprise and shocking ending.
There are two scenes in this movie that involve the main character Marcus, a young Jewish freshman college student in the year 1951 from Newark New Jersey played by a great young actor named Logan Lerhman and the Dean of the college he is attending played by Tracy Letts that involves some of the best acting between two actors I have ever seen. While watching the first scene between the two of them, I wondered why the Dean was hammering away at this straight A student over and over again about so many trial issues including like why did he move to another dormitory after having a conflict with his two roommates? Why he was an atheist? Why did the Dean care about the personal religious beliefs of a student, why did he pry into the private life of this young man so rudely as clearly, none of this was his business? The argument between the Dean and Marcus slowly became more and more intense, even causing the young man to become ill because of all the anger and stress the conversation was causing. We later find out that Marcus was having an attack of appendicitis brought on his emotional conversation with the Dean. I thought that the message behind this argument was that very often something that may seem trivial and unimportant could eventually become extremely important and this reality does occur towards the end of the film where Marcus, like so many other students, was paying another student to attend a required religious meeting. The end result of this seemingly trivial mistake is catastrophic and brings about a shocking and unexpected ending.
The other story in this film is the relationship between a very attractive female student played by Sarah Gadon who becomes involved with Marcus and at the end of their first date she does something rather shocking, especially considering the year is 1951. What eventually becomes much more important as this film continues is not that she did what she did with Marcus, but why she did it. The reason for her indiscretion is once again brilliantly brought out by another subtle scene while visiting Marcus in the hospital for his appendicitis where Marcus asks her about her surgeon father. Later scenes with Marcus mother and her noticing the slash on his girlfriend’s wrist are also brilliant as the simple but complex story plays out.
This movie should be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, despite the fact that it has come out so early in the year. The arguments between Marcus and the Dean are so well acted that both of them should receive Academy Award nominations just for these scenes alone. This film is a very rare great movie and should be seen by anyone who appreciates movies as an art form and how rare a greatly acted film like this one comes around. We all suffer through so many bad movies in the hopes that we will find one gem out of so many bad films that are made every year. This movie gets my highest recommendation and is one of the best movies I have ever seen.