6.1/10
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60 user 147 critic

American Pastoral (2016)

Trailer
2:20 | Trailer
An All-American college star and his beauty queen wife watch their seemingly perfect life fall apart as their daughter joins the turmoil of '60s America.

Director:

Ewan McGregor

Writers:

Philip Roth (based on the novel by), John Romano (screenplay by)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewan McGregor ... Swede Levov
Jennifer Connelly ... Dawn Levov
Dakota Fanning ... Merry Levov
Peter Riegert ... Lou Levov
Rupert Evans ... Jerry Levov
Uzo Aduba ... Vicky
Molly Parker ... Sheila Smith
Valorie Curry ... Rita Cohen
Hannah Nordberg ... Merry (12 Years Old)
Julia Silverman ... Sylvia Levov
Mark Hildreth ... Agent Dolan
Samantha Mathis ... Penny Hamlin
David Strathairn ... Nathan Zuckerman
Ocean James ... Merry (8 Years Old) (as Ocean Nalu James)
David Whalen ... Bill Orcutt
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Storyline

Seymour Levov, going by the nickname of 'Swede' in the Jewish community he was born into, was even more of an all-American than Douglas Fairbanks himself. He had just everything an American idol can dream of: not only was the tall muscular young man a high school star athlete but he married a beauty queen named Dawn in the bargain. And as if all this were not enough, Swede later became the successful manager of the glove factory his father had founded, which allowed him to live with his wife in a beautiful house in the New Jersey countryside. Well-mannered, always bright, smiling and positive, conservative but with a liberal edge, what bad could ever happen to him? And yet...this was reckoning without fate and its obnoxious irony, Swede and Dawn's nemesis manifesting itself in the person of Merry, their beloved daughter who in her teens unexpectedly turned into a violent activist. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A radically ordinary story. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong sexual material, language and brief violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the shoot Ewan McGregor would hone his New Jersey accent by listening to recordings of Ray Liotta dialog while on location. See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning of the film Levov Sr. makes the statement that his son's party is taking place in Republican territory--that it's where the KKK lives. The KKK, being nearly 100% made up of poor Whites then and now, have been Democratic until Regan pulled them all into the Republican Party to make room for the then-emerging Marxists who had subtly taken the Democratic Party for themselves, beginning during the 1960s. So, what Levov should have said was Democratic, not Republican. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Nathan Zuckerman: [narrating as WWII era dance music plays] Let's remember the energy. America had won the war. The depression was over. Sacrifice was over. The upsurge of life was contagious. We celebrated a moment of collective inebriation that we would never know again. Nothing like it in all the years that followed from our childhood until tonight, the 45th reunion of our high school class.
Nathan Zuckerman: [now walking down a school hallway] At 30 or 40, a gathering of my old classmates would have been exactly the...
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Soundtracks

Moon River
Written by Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer
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User Reviews

 
the end of idealism
20 October 2016 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Tackling one of the great American novels is a difficult challenge for even the most seasoned film directors … and a dubious undertaking (at best) for a first-timer. Philip Roth won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel "American Pastoral", and there have been rumblings of a Hollywood production for more than a decade. It's somewhat surprising that the screen version is directed by first time director Ewan McGregor … with the Scottish actor also taking on the lead role of local Jersey boy and sports hero Seymour "Swede" Levov.

The story examines the cracks behind the façade of a seemingly perfect family … the sports hero marrying the beauty queen. Of course, there is always more going on within a family than most care to admit (at least that was the case in the days prior to Facebook). There's an early scene where Swede has introduced Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) to his father (Peter Riegert), and the philosophical and religious differences perfectly capture the changing times and mores from one generation to the next. Never has this been more true than the late 1960's and early 1970's … political and social upheaval were daily occurrences – and sometimes quite violent.

The first half of the movie is exceptionally well done and captures the essence of why the second half feels like a total decimation of everything Swede thought he had. He and Dawn's daughter Merry is beautiful and feisty and stutters … something that only enhances the anger she expresses and anguish she causes for her parents. Her innocent questions as a young child evolve into radical political beliefs and affiliations as she grows up.

Merry (ironically named) is by far the most interesting character in the story, but with the focus on Swede, Dakota Fanning only has brief moments that are worthy of her talent, and Dawn has only a few emotional moments that allow Ms. Connelly to flash the acting depth she hasn't shown in years. So much time and attention is devoted to Swede that the second half is a bit of a letdown and leaves too many details and questions unanswered.

John Romano's (The Lincoln Lawyer) adaptation of the American classic took a different direction than we might have preferred, but it's a thankless job since so many have considered this as unfilmable. McGregor shows a good eye as a director, though it's obvious this material needed a more experienced filmmaker at the helm. The great Alexandre Desplat provides a classy score … the piano pieces are especially well suited. Supporting work is solid from David Strathairn as narrator Nathan Zuckerman, Rupert Evans as Swede's brother, Molly Parker as Merry's therapist, Uzo Aduba as Swede's employee, and Valorie Curry as a misguided revolutionary. It's a reminder that family dynamics may be the most complex organism, and when blended with the volatile times of the Vietnam War, a generational gap should be expected … even if it's difficult and emotional to accept.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official Site | See more »

Country:

Hong Kong | USA

Language:

English | Hebrew

Release Date:

21 October 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Pastoral See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$149,038, 23 October 2016

Gross USA:

$544,098

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,063,436
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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