american pastoral

★★

Director: ewan mcgregor (debut)


Starring: ewan mcgregor, jennifer connelly, dakota fanning, david strathairn


REVIEWER: Lyall Carter

Seymour Swede Levov (Ewan McGregor) is a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn (Jennifer Connelly), a former beauty queen. When his beloved teenage daughter (Dakota Fanning) disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family.

Actors turned directors have had mixed results. For every Ron Howard and Mel Gibson their is a Johnny Depp or Nicolas Cage. Unfortunately Ewan McGregor's debut in the directors chair for American Pastoral heads towards the later. 

The epitome of a 1940's American guy and gal, Seymour and Dawn get married, settled down, and have a baby girl, Merry. All white picket fence kinda stuff. But as Merry hits teenage years she gets involved in a revolutionary crowd who are seeking to change America through acts of violence. After a bomb goes off in their sleepy little town, Merry disappears and so begins Seymour's obsessive search for her. 

The problem with American Pastoral is not its acting. Sure - it won't go down as some of McGregor, Connelly, or Fannings best but it certainly isn't their worst. There is mood in the cinematography, the score is good, and the costuming is on point.

And its not the story that lets it down either but its the pace in which its told where the problem really lies. In the hands of a more experienced film maker American Pastoral may have been a completely different beast entirely.

But it drags where the pace should pick up, and slows where it should be crisp and be moving right along. In one particularly dramatic moment the scene dissolves to black for no apparent reason. 

The premise is intriguing but overall the film is let down by its inconsistent pacing. In the hands of a more experienced film maker, American Pastoral may have been a completely different beast entirely. 

★★

American Pastoral is available on DVD and Blu-ray and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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