Not a movie I would have sought out to watch, but I am glad I took a chance on this film. American Pastoral is Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut and it is definitely worth the watch.
Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor) is the small town’s high school all-star, Mr. Popularity, a legend among his people. His wife Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) was a former beauty queen. Together this perfect couple gives birth to a girl, who grows up less than perfect. As she gets older, she bucks to system, wants to protest the war, and is against everything and everyone. When she blows up the post office and kills a beloved townsman, she runs from the law and the family. Swede doesn’t give up on his search for his daughter because he is convinced that she had been brainwashed.
The film covers a time period where people were protesting the Vietnam war, also the Newark and black equality. Young people, like Swede’s daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning) took to violence as a way of protesting the government. They didn’t care about their actions and who they hurt along the way. Each of the parents handled their daughter in different ways. While I wasn’t around during these times, I can imagine that this was true to the times.
McGregor captured each of the three main characters brilliantly. The story, the emotion, the connections, are everything you can hope for in a dramatic film like this. The film is based off the novel of the same name, written by Philip Roth. While the film is not a critic’s favorite, I really disagree. When you connect, you live the film and I was there with them. Wonderful shot and told story.