What if your memory of lost love is limited to images on wallpaper in a sanitarium?

indignationIndignation, directed by James Schamus, is a challenging, provocative film that should be knocking on the door when Oscar nominations are announced next January.  Taking place in 1951 and based on Phillip Ross’s novel, it tells the story of how young people of any generation can be haunted by an authoritarian system beyond their control.

Here, the wonderful young actor Logan Lerman plays Marcus Messner, a smart, sensitive Jewish boy from Newark, New Jersey who accepts a scholarship to a small Ohio college to avoid being drafted into the Korean War Conflict.  He leaves a loving mother and a controlling father who owns a butcher shop, and he simply seeks to establish himself in the Midwest.

Once in college, young Mr. Messner is interested in nothing more than his   studies and working in the school library.  However, in the process he meets the beautiful Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), a troubled young girl haunted by a past that will soon be revealed.

As Messner wrestles with his studies and his uncertain attraction to Ms. Hutton, he comes into conflict with the school’s dean, played in stunning fashion by Tracy Letts.  They have several encounters in the dean’s office that will leave you pinned to your seat as you await the outcome.

This is a marvelous story where human imperfections drive young people from each other’s arms.  The film will break your heart, and I haven’t seen any movie confront lost love in such a crushing fashion since Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift starred in A Place in the Sun (1951).

Mr. Lerman is only 24, yet he has already made a mark on the big screen.  Think of his brilliant performance in Fury (2014), the overlooked Noah (2014) and the wonderful Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).

This is a movie awash in family concerns, mental illness and romance at its deepest levels.  It is also about young people having the courage to challenge authority and the crushing consequences. This is a riveting movie that you will long remember.

This splendid film will remind you of the old song by Billy Joel, “Only the good die young”.