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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".)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I read the novel just before I watched the movie and was upset by the movie, how they distorted the point of it. In the novel, Roth shows the complexity and humanity of all the characters. The movie starts out well and some scenes seem true to the point of the story, like when Merry, the daughter is upset by the Buddhist monks immolating themselves.
But by the end the director or producers have switched to cliche' mode, pitting the SIDES against each other to no good purpose, the father being just a helpless victim of outside events and the daughter seen as just a monster, with no reason for any of it.
This is one of the worst films I have watched. I kept on waiting for a point to this story and there was none. Although I did fast fwd. a few times, maybe I missed it. The acting was terrible as well as the story. All I saw was a family, apparently the parents were in love with each other, and a teenaged girl with a potty mouth, no respect for her parents or anyone else for that matter, a very misguided therapist who attempted to help the girl with a stuttering problem and did not listen to the concerns of the parents. This was a waste of time.
I wanted to like this film, but it was so dark and seemingly pointless that I became more and more disengaged. A golden boy who loves his daughter loses her to her own acts of violence. The beloved daughter stutters so that she does not hurt the air???? "Pastoral" is hardly the word to choose to describe this story. American Despair might have been better. I tried to find the message behind all the pain, but all I could find was that early success does not guarantee that a life will continue to be blessed and happy. Kristi & Abby Tabby
While the name of the radical group that was at the center of the story was not mentioned, I suspect that it may be the Weather Underground or The Black Liberation Army. Upon that premise, I gave the film a better rating than most critics as I lived in the mid-west city that had some of the most famous people from the Weather Underground, so I understand that part of the anti-war anti-racism movement. I felt that these two rather violent groups made it more dangerous for peaceful groups to co-exist. Even today, people often incorrectly characterize groups that merely were participating in democracy as being violent.
Ugh. This movie was hard to watch mainly due to its stereotypical, one dimensional portrayal of women, as either unhinged, cold, saints or whores. There is also a nonsensical sex scene, which appears, most likely, for the male viewing audience.
My bias may be showing, as a fan of Phillip Roth to begin with, but that aside, this film left me bringing back scenes unexpectedly in my mind for days, after seeing it. Just sudden, random wondering about the story. Films rarely do that to me, but this one was powerfully portrayed, and not easily forgotten.
The writer Philip Roth won a Pulitzer for the novel this film is based upon. It is darkly interesting and unique, and well worth a watch....but not nearly as original or brilliant as "The Human Stain" which Roth also wrote.