James Schamus made his directing debut with this film from his own screenplay from a novel of the same name by Philip Roth. Beautifully written and acted it details the story of a young working class Jewish student, Marcus Messner who leaves his home in Newark, New Jersey to attend a small liberal arts college in Winesburg, Ohio. There he encounters a life outside of the Jewish community he grew up in and questions the role of organized religion in the academic life of the college. He encounters a type of sexual awakening with the rich and sophisticated though mentally troubled student Olivia Hutton. He is also dealing with his over bearing father whom he loves dearly but whom cannot seem to let his son go and his mother who is finding her husband’s behavior more and more irrational. It is rare to find a film where the dialogue is paramount but remarkably not overly talky. You are allowed to really get to know these characters in and out, which is rarely seen in films anymore apart from certain plays. Logan Lerman as Marcus gives a career defining performance and could be nominated for an Oscar as well as by Tracy Letts as the Dean of the School who is particularly excellent here in his two main scenes. Other cast members include Sarah Gordon, Pico Alexander, Danny Burstein, Linda Emond and Ben Rosenfield all of whom are excellent.
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