Movie Review: American Pastoral


American Pastoral is based upon the book of the same name, by Philip Roth, and what initially attracted me to it, other than its fantastic cast, was its trailer: there's a haunting rendition of Mad World throughout. The movie ended up being one of those films that will make you think about it days and maybe even months later, and now I want to read the book version.

Seymour "Swede" Levov (Ewan McGregor) is a Jewish boy from New Jersey, who eventually marries Miss New Jersey, Dawn (Jennifer Connelly); much to his father's chagrin, she's not Jewish. Swede was known in high school for being the quarterback and all-around great at sports; now, after he and Dawn have a daughter, he has the perfect family. That is, until that daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning), grows up, and starts to hang out with radicals in New York. Soon, an event happens in their small town of New Jersey that changes everything, and Merry is on the run because of it - with her parents desperate to find her.

The performances in this movie were all fantastic. The family is played by McGregor, who also directed the film; Connelly; and Fanning. Fanning's character has a stutter, too, and she was very believable with that. Supporting parts were played by Rupert Evans (TV's The Man in the High Castle), and Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), who played Swede's secretary at his family-owned leather glove shop. Our narrator, not in the family but who was a friend of Swede's brother, is played by David Straithairn (The Blacklist).

Yes, definitely see this film. It's more of a movie that shows, rather than tells, which some people might not like; but to me, sometimes those are the best types of films. I'm hoping this movie sees some love come award season, because the three main actors deserve nominations; it will be interesting to see if McGregor gets a director nod for the movie, too; this is actually the first film he has directed. No spoilers, but I really liked the ending here, as well - it was very fitting for the movie.

American Pastoral is in theaters today, October 21st, and is rated R with a runtime of approximately 110 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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