DVD: American Pastoral

American Pastoral is a story about a man who had the world at his feet but decided to do nothing but exist. I may be oversimplifying (or totally missing) the theme of Philip Roth’s 1997 Pulitzer Prize winning book from which the film is drawn from, but Ewan McGregor’s bland and unemotional portrayal of Seymour “Swede” Levov leads me to that conclusion. A man who could have done anything with his life but instead settled for his high school sweetheart and following his fathers footsteps, isn’t really the thing you’re really looking for in a gripping film.

But worry not, American Pastoral takes Swede’s perfect Grant Wood painted life and turns it on it’s head, when his not quite perfect daughter (well she is but for her stutter) gets drawn into politics of the day and bombs the local post office killing one person, and running into the proverbial night.

With his world turned upside down, the Swede never falters in his bland adherence to living his life the proper way, but also never recovers.

As a slow burn family story American Pastoral keeps us watching the first act waiting to see what climatic shift is bound to be just around the corner, but once it does we’re left hanging on just to see if everyone survives the ensuing train wreck.

American Pastoral is a weirdly compelling watch, but a film that neither entertains or lifts your spirit, but rather leaves you emotionally drained, is a hard film to recommend or rate highly.

Rating: M Sex scenes & offensive language.




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