21 December, 2016

"American Pastoral" Review (***)

Ewan McGregor and Jennifer Connelly star in "American Pastoral."

Ewan McGregor made a bold choice in his directorial debut with "American Pastoral." Phillip Roth is easily one of the best American authors of the past 25 years. His work is beastly. McGregor attempted to tame the beast. "American Pastoral" is simply a convoluted story about a man, his family and America during the tumultuous Vietnam era—and then some.

The film boasts an all-star cast including Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Uzo Aduba, and Dakota Fanning. Like most actors turned directors, McGregor gets a great performance from everyone. Jennifer Connelly is absolutely amazing throughout the entire film.

The best part of the movie is the acting—Connelly, specifically. The rest of the film leaves something to be desired. The something missing is cohesiveness. "American Pastoral" feels like it is trying to be several different movies at the same time. There were so many things happening during the 1960s and 1970s. It is possible that a person could have experienced and/or been connected to all the mayhem, but to fit all of it in the same movie is a bit much.

The problem with the way McGregor presents the Swede’s story is that at different points, the movie seems to change its focus and feel. The mini-movies within "American Pastoral" aren’t bad, but to watch them all stitched together as one film is frustrating.

By the end of the movie, the audience knows that the film is less than the sum of its parts. It would also seem that "American Pastoral" is better as book. A word to the wise, 'Not every thing needs to be adapted to film.'

3 out of 5 stars.

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