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
Ewan MacGregor insisted on rehearsals and clearing the set for the actors to become familiar with each other and their characters so they could comfortably work together before shooting any scenes. See more »
A 1947 newspaper article shows the surname of Newark's mayor as Cole. The surname of Newark's mayor in 1947 was Murphy. See more »
[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.
[now walking down a school hallway]
At 30 or 40, a gathering of my old classmates would have been exactly ...
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I really like the Fanning sisters so I'll basically watch anything with them. I was also curious about this film because its the directional debut of Ewan McGregor. I went in blind not knowing what the film would bring but it seemed to have a strong cast, and for the little buzz it generated it remained something that I really wanted to check out. I think its a solid debut for McGregor as a filmmaker but can't escape being too dull at times.
The film is based on a novel about a family with a daughter with a speech impediment. She witnesses a traumatic scene of the infamous monk setting himself on fire in television. After this childhood incident Merry (Fanning's character) becomes a radical opponent of war. She starts out vehemently opposing Lyndon Johnson and the war efforts but eventually becomes the culprit in a murder after a bomb goes off. Swede (Ewan McGregor) spends most of the film trying to find his estranged daughter and find out why she is the way she is.
I think the film has strong performances as you would expect from the cast of this caliber. You immediately see the disenchantment of youth in Fanning's character and understand how radical she is in her anti-war stance. Her pained relationship with her mother is stated quite well, and the uncomfortably in it drives her mother mad. I had no problems with the character interactions, however the film cannot escape feeling dull and prolonged. You don't care enough to follow Swede as he tries to find his daughter, and when you finally find her, its just very underwhelming.
Its hard to care for Fanning's character as she's unlikable from the get go. The film doesn't offer much else outside of a quest for a character you'd rather remain lost. The method of storytelling does not always prosper as it goes through periods of stalling and the payoff isn't really entertaining. It gets very lost in an antiwar shuffle and remains shallow despite trying to go deep. I'd say its exciting to see McGregor get behind the camera but his first adaptation does not have enough life.
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