Amer­i­can Pas­toral

Dir: Ewan McGre­gor 1hr 48mins (15)

The Week Middle East - - Arts -

Heavy-handed adap­ta­tion of the Philip Roth novel The nov­els of Philip Roth are no­to­ri­ously un­filmable, yet for some rea­son, film-mak­ers won’t stop try­ing, said Ge­of­frey Mac­nab in The In­de­pen­dent. The lat­est to step up to the plate is the Bri­tish ac­tor Ewan McGre­gor, who makes his di­rect­ing de­but with this “painstak­ing” adap­ta­tion of Roth’s 1997 Pulitzer win­ner, Amer­i­can Pas­toral. It’s a com­plex tale of an all-Amer­i­can fam­ily presided over by Sey­mour “Swede” Levov (McGre­gor), an over-achiev­ing paragon whose life im­plodes when his daugh­ter Merry (Dakota Fan­ning) be­comes a ter­ror­ist. Does McGre­gor pull it off? “Un­for­tu­nately not,” said Henry Fitzher­bert in the Sun­day Ex­press. Squeezed into less than two hours, plot points that work in the book seem “rushed”, and the re­sponses of Levov and his fra­grant wife (Jen­nifer Con­nelly) to Merry’s trans­for­ma­tion are “hard to credit”. McGre­gor brings a “gen­tle in­cor­rupt­ibil­ity” to his per­for­mance, said John Nu­gent in Em­pire. Yet some of his di­rec­to­rial touches – for ex­am­ple, us­ing footage of Wood­stock and the Moon land­ing to con­vey a sense of the era – are about “as sub­tle as a tank in a model vil­lage”. I fear this film lacks the “wit, nu­ance and in­sight” of its source ma­te­rial.

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