American Pastoral [2016] ★★

 american-pastoral-posterEwan McGregor’s directorial debut is a disappointing take on Phillip Roth’s Pulitzer-winning 1997 novel about a family man (McGregor) who finds his life spiralling out of control when his 16 year old daughter (Dakota Fanning) rebels by committing a terrorist act during the Vietnam War. On paper, you can’t go wrong with a family drama set in the 1960’s. And McGregor directs with a keen eye for detail. But having all the right ingredients, including a rich atmosphere and a superior cast that also includes Jennifer Connelly, doesn’t mean you can’t screw it all up, and “American Pastoral” does exactly that. It looks fancy and intriguing at first, then quickly becomes conventional and schematic. And when it ended, I felt nothing. It is clear that McGregor approached this material with good intentions, which makes the overall results all the more disappointing.

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