American Pastoral

American Pastoral

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Seymour 'Swede' Levov, a once-legendary high school athlete, is a successful businessman married to an ex-beauty queen, Dawn. When Swede and Dawn's daughter disappears after being accused of a violent crime, Swede's perfect life is broken forever and he is left to make sense out of the chaos.
Edition: Widescreen version.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (108 min.) :,sound, colour ;,12 cm.
digital, video, surround, rda
video file, DVD, rda


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Feb 05, 2020

Jmg2000 is spot on with the assessment of this film being agonising. It is so dark and distressing and I had to pause it numerous times, trying to deal with parent concerns for the naive or ill-considered passions of unworldly youth, the daughter in the case of this story. Very confronting.

Aug 13, 2019

I really liked this film. From the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Philip Roth, the "Pastoral" in the title for me is more for the meditative, trance-like state it put me in, rather than a geographical location.

Jun 18, 2019

pas·to·ral (noun) -- a work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life.

Roth tells an agonizing social drama when a storied family is turned upside down as the daughter explores her own identity during the chaotic Vietnam War era. Very difficult to watch and tell with polarizing views on US military involvements in regime changes abroad with economic and racial divides at home. According to the interviews in Special features, the film makers stay true to Roth's Pulitzer winner except the last haunting few frames at the end.

Note: Reminds me of the Australian film Holy Smoke (1999) with Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel; subject is the deprogramming of a cult-napped daughter from a happy Australian family. (Roth's novel was published in 1997 and the sect is Jain - more in "Summary".)

Mar 19, 2019

returned March 19, 2019. Library was closed. It got confusing because they changed the drop off box. Fyi have returned all dvds (3) that were due March 21.

Dark, dreary take on the American cultural revolution of the 1960s. The Philip Roth novel is no doubt better than this movie, which flirts with but fails to answer the question of why upper-middle-class children brought the Vietnam War home (watch the excellent 2002 documentary THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND instead). On the upside, Dakota Fanning is terrific.

Jul 25, 2018

It's better than most of the media reviews suggest. I'd call this film a noble failure. It's definitely worth watching. I don't like Philip Roth's novels all that much and I'm not surprised that this attempt to put one on film didn't work out any better than the others. What works on the page shows its implausibility on the screen. But worth watching.

May 26, 2018

Awful. The character of the daughter is a two-dimensional cardboard cut-out of a "terrorist." She is completely unbelievable and without any redeeming qualities. Basically, its propaganda to tell the audience that politically motivated people are inherently "evil" or crazy. The use of Weather Underground film footage is misguided. The music score is overwrought and obvious. Not sure why we sat through it.

Jan 20, 2018

Dark and thought provoking.

ArapahoeJeremiah Dec 19, 2017

Succeeds well in communicating its theme, despite a little awkwardness due to the difficulties of packing a dense, serious novel into a movie. I was very moved by the ending.

Nov 25, 2017

Don't be discouraged by all of the negative comments. This is a pretty good movie. It's complicated and might make you uncomfortable because there is no clear right and wrong.
I haven't read the book yet and I always like the book more than the film! That doesn't make all screen adaptations terrible.

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Jun 18, 2019

Mr. Levov. You've done everything wrong you possibly could've.
-Since when? Excuse me? I've done everything wrong since when?
That's a question you're gonna have to answer for yourself, Mr. Levov.
How did I end up here? You. You. You wouldn't leave me alone. Had to marry me. I just wanted to teach music. That's what I wanted. To teach kids music in the school system... and be left alone by boys. That's it. I never wanted to be
Miss Union County... Miss crazy New Jersey... Miss America. I wanted a scholarship. I wanted a degree... a job. But then you arrived. You. Those hands. You wouldn't let me breathe! Every time I looked up, there's my boyfriend, gaga because I was some ridiculous beauty queen.

Jun 18, 2019

Lady Dawn of the manor? I know all there is to know about Lady fxcking Dawn. So ashamed of her class origins, she had to become lady of the fxcking manor and turn her daughter into a debutante.
-"A debutante"? Merry shoveled cow shit since the age of six. She rode tractors, she's 4-H.
Fake. All fake. The daughter of the beauty queen and the captain of the football team? What kind of nightmare is that for a girl with a soul?
-Dawn is not a beauty queen. She works a farm all day.
Fake, fake. She works a farm like a fxcking upper-class landowner.
-"Upper class"? Her father was a plumber! Her grandfather was an Irish milk farmer!

Jun 18, 2019

Swede Levov. How much do you pay the workers in your factory in Puerto Rico?
-I don't have a factory in Puerto Rico. I stayed right here.
How much do you pay the women going blind stitching gloves for the ladies at Bendel's and Macy's?
-You've seen how unhappy my employees are. That's why they've worked for me for 40 years, because they're so exploited. Who are you? You don't even know what you're talking about.
You own your people. You own them, you use them, you sleep with them, and then when you're done...

Jun 18, 2019

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.
A "Jain"?
-We're a small Indian sect. I wear the veil to do no harm to the organisms that dwell in the air.
You come at people with an open mind and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You get them wrong while you're with them or you tell someone about them and get them wrong again.
He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach - that it makes no sense.
"I renounce all killing of living beings, whether subtle or gross, moveable or immovable. I renounce all vices of lying speech arising from anger. I renounce all sexual pleasure with either Gods or men, all taking of anything not given."


Add a Summary
Jun 18, 2019

The novel's excerpt on "Jain":

"You ask a profound question. You are a very intelligent man, Daddy. You ask, 'If you respect life in all forms, how can you live?' The answer is you cannot. The traditional way by which a Jain holy man ends his life is by salla khana—self-starvation. Ritual death by salla khana is the price paid for perfection by the perfect Jain"

"I cannot believe this is you. I have to tell you what I think.

"Of course you do."

I cannot believe, clever as you are, that you know what you are saying or what you are doing here or why. I cannot believe that you are telling me that a point will come when you will decide that you will not even destroy plant lite, and that you wont eat anything and that you will just doom yourself to death. For whom, Merry?. For what?"

"It's all right. It's all right, Daddy. I can believe that you can't believe that you know what I'm saying or what I' m doing or why."


His father was right. That was what happened. They raised a child who was neither Catholic nor Jew, who instead was first a stutterer, then a killer, then a Jain. He had tried all his life never to do the wrong thing, and that was what he had done.

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