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American Pastoral review: Roth adaptation lacks any punch

By Damon Smith

At a 40-year high school reunion, Nathan Zuckerman (David Strathairn) wanders corridors and meets old friend Jerry Levov (Rupert Evans). They reminisce and Jerry reveals he has just buried his star athlete older brother, Seymour (Ewan McGregor).

In flashback, we see Jewish American businessman Seymour assume control of the Newark Maid Glove factory established by his father (Peter Riegert) and marry an Irish-Catholic girl called Dawn (Jennifer Connelly).

Seymour and Dawn raise a stuttering daughter called Merry (Dakota Fanning) on their farm in Old Rimrock, where they are largely cocooned from a rapidly changing world. American Pastoral is a stagnant adaptation of Philip Roth's book. It should bristle with intent and deliver each emotional wallop with the precision of a prize fighter. Sadly, the opposite is true.

Two stars

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