A benign prestige pic in many ways. Clearly something Mr. Schamus has wanted to do for a long time and which means a lot to him. It does happen to be based on a Philip Roth. There are few writers I loathe more than Philip Roth. And, of course, we have here another execrable Roth-type woman on display. She's played by Sarah Gadon, thankfully. Everything good about this movie has to do w/ leaving space for the actors.
(Did not read Roth's novel) The beginning made me think about 1984 Maria's Lovers. It shares with Konchalovsky's film the same type of male sexual disconnect/tension that both desires and rejects. And it refers to the same American culture and period. This story deals with individuality vs conformity and the consequences of choosing your own path, in a time when identity relied so much on finding common enemies.
Couldn't ask for a more perfect title, for as we follow Marcus Messner's (played wonderfully by Logan Lerman) trials against the social mores of 1950s Ohio, the audience sympathizes with frustrations of his life and relationships, which leave both us and him with a lasting feeling of indignation. Sarah Gadon and Tracy Letts are also great; I only wish their characters had more for me to latch on to.
I tried to enjoy it but as it became too obvious and predictable as a doomed love story that is going to destroy lives, the less engaged I got and the more aggravated I became. I've seen enough of that kind of romance before and it doesn't work this time for me. I was far less interested in the romance as I was in the eccentric poetic roommate who wouldn't shut up but breathed life into a melancholic melodrama.
Obviously more of an examination on male pleasure, but despite that, still winds up being the most romantic and sexually intimate film of the year. Some truly beautiful shots of passion here, with terrific performances by both Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon I know many of us have been waiting for. Surprisingly intense at times, with the grace and eloquence of Philip Roth that makes this really feel like a novel on film