Film Reviews

American Pastoral (2016)

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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning

Director: Ewan McGregor

I was really looking forward to this film, because it’s Ewan McGregor’s debut as a director. It’s an adaptation of a novel by Phillip Roth, and follows the story of a man who was a college star (McGregor) and whose wife (Connelly) was a beauty queen. They live a perfect life, with their daughter (Fanning), who stutters and who is the darling of her father.

But when she reaches her teenage years, she can’t ignore the turmoil of the world in the 60’s, from Vietnam to the Civil Rights Movement, and her parents apparent complacency disturbs her. She starts to become an activist, and following a terrible act, a bombing, she disappears. Her parents are broken by her actions and her father determines to find her, as years pass.

It’s an odd film. The child is oddly seductive towards her father at times, in a way that I didn’t entirely understand, as it seemed to be making a point that I didn’t get. It’s quite a dark film, skewering the ideals of America by showing the naivety of the 50’s ideals in the face of social change, and things get very dark as the father searches for the daughter. The things that she has done, and that have been done to her are pretty awful. Meanwhile, her actions have broken her parents and broken their relationship. I feel like this film wants to explore the darkness at the heart of the American Dream, but I’m not sure how effective it is, really. It all feels kind of over the top.

But as a directorial debut, it’s really not bad. It’s imagery is quite beautiful and the performances are nuanced, even if their choices and actions feel a bit hysterical. An interesting film, I’m looking forward to what McGregor directs next.

See It If: shows promise in McGregor as a director, and is quite a dramatic film, but flawed.

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11 thoughts on “American Pastoral (2016)”

  1. Hmmm, don’t know if I wil; be checking this one out anytime soon. On the one habd it sounds like something I usually enjoy seeing (especially considering the fact that I like dark movies). On the other hand there are also some things that kind of don’t make me want to see this. Still, I have noted it down for future reference. Always nice to have a few movies in reserve. But as always a great review!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Im starting to see a trend here with Dakota Fanning and the equal rights for all people, first seeing the Secret Life of Bees and now what your wrote about American Pastoral. Seems that she is trying to make a statement don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

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