Ewan McGregors take on Philip Roths Pulitzer-winning novel has been critically vilified but its not the first hyped be adapted to sadden fervent literary fans
Everybody is wrong in Philip Roths American Pastoral. They start out incorrect. They underrate those around them and become hopelessly confused. The characters lives are a mess; they must make a home in the ruins. But then, getting beings right is not what living is about regardless, Roth( in the guise of his fictional alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman) reminds us. Its going them wrong that is living, getting them incorrect and incorrect and wrong and then, on careful consideration, going them wrong again. Thats how we know were alive: were wrong.
All of which should become Ewan McGregors film version of American Pastoral “the worlds largest” pulsatingly alive segment of cinema well witness all year. The casting is wrong. The manage is bungled. The tone is off-key. It should at least possess any particular breakneck flamboyance; a car-crash fascination. But no American Pastorals succession of wrong turns only serves to steer it into a innovative cul-de-sac. The result, as Variety employed it, is a film as flat and strangled as Philip Roths novel is furious and expansive.
Few scribes have been quite so ill-served by the film industry as Roth, whose ruminative, proselytizing, deeply felt writing style appears to set all the types of catches for the Hollywood scriptwriter. The 1969 adaptation of Goodbye Columbus remains a decent, bird-dog pass at information materials. Since then, the films have verged from the calamitous( Portnoys Complaint, The Human Stain) to the leadenly deferential( The Humbling, Indignation ). So its no astonish that American Pastoral( arguably the finest American tale of the past 20 years) should become a cautiou, mithering non-drama, in which McGregor aims himself as the regrettable Swede Levov, picking his channel through the rubble of late 60 s Newark. Next, presumably, well get an adaptation of I Married a Communist, Roths tale of a fiery Jewish revolutionary who acquires himself undone by his celebrity bride. Im tip-off Tyler Perry to direct.