Groping for grand tragedy and finding only actorly melodrama, shooting for political contrarianism but landing instead on reactionary conventionalism, American Pastoral is as flat and strangled as its source is furious and expansive.
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A drab and airless affair, it effectively ignores the substantial political commentaries inherent in its story, and fails to land the emotional punches of the one it's intent on telling.
All of “Pastoral’s” problems could have been slightly forgiven if McGregor showed a hint of inspiration behind the camera.
Ewan McGregor’s inert adaption smooths out the Philip Roth novel's eruptions of self-loathing and doubt.
Many will place blame on Ewan McGregor simply because he may have been ill-prepared to handle such a dense work as his directorial debut. Fault should lie with him as captain, but besides an artificial, mannered feel throughout, my main issue concerns John Romano’s script being so intent on solving the central mystery of Mary’s (Dakota Fanning in adulthood) vanishing.
What we have on our hands is a dud, but there are a few grace notes that save it from being an unmitigated disaster.
Roth’s material should have been brewed into a larger indictment of authority in freefall—a few incidental Nixon mentions don’t count—and we’re left to suck on actorly handwringing in lieu of larger ideas.
American Pastoral tries to be loyal in its adaptation, but the material is film-resistant and flat as cardboard.
Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut eventually finds its own emotional core, zeroing in on the tragedy that befalls a seemingly perfect life once a man’s wilful daughter torpedoes it.
Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, in which he also stars, is decently performed and delivers some potent scenes of inter-generational discord between a concerned father and a radicalized daughter who becomes a murderous terrorist. But the filmmaking is prosaic when it should crackle with tension and disruptive undercurrents,