Rated 3.0

Best known for writing or co-writing nine of Ang Lee’s films, James Schamus makes his feature directing debut with this adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel. Logan Lerman stars as Marcus Messner, an intellectual Jewish atheist teenager who avoids the Korean War by attending a small Ohio college. Anti-Semitism, sexual repression, communist-era paranoia and emotional insecurity swirl indistinguishable into a tornado of adolescent angst for Marcus, especially when he gets involved with a complicated female student played by Sarah Gadon. Indignation feels like the work of a writer turned first-time director: it’s patient and actor-friendly (the centerpiece scene is an 18 minute-long standoff between Marcus and the judgmental Dean played by Tracy Letts) with some novel-like dimensions, but the emphasis is placed on construction and texture at the expense of pace, momentum and visual language. The performances hold it together, including a scene-stealing turn from Linda Emond as Marcus’ mother.