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Indignation [2016] [R] - 6.5.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Based on a Philip Roth novel: Set in the 1950s, a Jewish college freshman (Logan Lerman) from a New Jersey working class family attends a conservative Christian college in Ohio on scholarship. He falls in love with a troubled girl (Sarah Gadon), and suffers numerous conflicts with his roommates, the college dean (Tracy Letts) and his parents' oppressive plans for him. Also with Linda Emond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfield and Pico Alexander. Directed by James Schamus. Several lines of dialogue are in Hebrew and are not translated. [1:50]

SEX/NUDITY 6 - After a date in a parked car at night a male and a female college student kiss for several seconds and she reaches below the frame and we hear a zipper, she bends below the frame and the man grimaces and sighs as the woman rises, smiles and wipes her mouth with a handkerchief (we do not see anything else). A man in a hospital room raises the covers to apparently show a woman his appendix stitches (we cannot see); she reaches under the covers and he grimaces and moans as a nurse walks in and walks back out quickly. Two scenes show a woman from the elbow up, apparently masturbating a man under covers; he groans and sighs each time; during one scene she hands him a washcloth that he puts under the covers and she wipes her hands (no fluids are seen) on another washcloth.
 A man in a library stares at a woman's leg that is bare from the middle of the knee to her ankle sock. In the hall of a college dorm, we see an etching of a female torso in some wooden molding at a payphone; the etching has breasts, nipples, an hourglass waistline and a little pubic hair.
 A male college student tells a roommate that the roommate's date has a sexually explicit name because she performs oral sex; the first man punches the second man in the face, knocking him down, but doing no injury. A male college student calls a female college student a sexually explicit name and the man dating her becomes obsessed, standing under her window at night and asking her to sit by him in classes. A woman admits to a man that she performed oral sex on a man once at a party when she was drunk (please see the Substance Use category for more details) and she was suspended from college for doing so; she says she did "that" (oral sex) to him because she likes him. A man joking tells a friend about a third male friend, "I thought you were "taking care" of each other" and the second man denies it. A man tells his college-aged son over the phone not to get into trouble (i.e. impregnate a girl) and the son hangs up on his father. A college dean tells a male student that his girlfriend might be pregnant, implying that women can become pregnant from masturbating a man; the student curses at the dean, tells him he has never had sexual intercourse and storms out of the office. A male student practices play lines about a woman loving a man's yellow stockings and garters.

VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A soldier at night is joined by three additional riflemen with bayonets attached and they enter a ruined stone building and one of them shoots around a corner, runs to an enclosed staircase and falls backward as we hear a shot and see reflected gun flare coming from the staircase; a replay of the scene shows another soldier sitting on the dirt floor by the stairs, with a dead man lying at his feet (the body is dirty, bloody and his eyes are open); the first soldier fires around a corner as the other runs up a flight of stairs and we see a bayonet stab into the second soldier's abdomen (no blood is seen), and he lies straight back on the steps and dies with open eyes, shooting the stabber as he falls (we see the shot man fall back dead with blood covering his chest and abdomen).
 A woman holds her arm over a bathroom sink and cut a long diagonal slice in the wrist with a razor blade; blood wells up in the widening cut and the camera cuts to the woman sitting in a chair and wearing a straitjacket (two scenes show a visible scar where she cut herself).
 In an extended and aggressive argument a college student and his dean of men argue about the dean's Christianity and the student's atheism; the dean interrogates the young man harshly and accuses him of general immorality, demanding to know about his girlfriends, roommates and parents while accusing the student of hiding his Judaism (the young man says that he is an atheist); the dean stands behind the young man, placing his hands on the student's shoulders as if the young man is a captive; the student mops his brow with a handkerchief twice, stands up, shouts, begins to leave and the man takes him by the shoulders, the young man says twice that he feels like vomiting and does vomit into a cup-style trophy and onto a wood floor as he collapses on the floor (we see a little yellow vomit when he becomes ill and we hear that the young man had appendicitis).
 A young man attends the funeral of a friend who died in combat in Korea; the ceremony has no coffin and takes place in a Jewish temple with men only. A man outside a funeral says, "The only thing worse than dying in combat is dying in combat a virgin." A college student tells his dean that many of his cousins died in WWII.
 An overprotective father monitors his college-aged son's behavior by the hour at work in a butcher shop and at home; the father continually warns the boy to be careful, because the least little mistake can ruin his life and one night the boy becomes frustrated and stalks to his room, slamming the door; the father goes out one night to follow the boy, going to all manner of places that the boy does not frequent. A father berates his son to stay out of pool halls, which always lead to car stealing; the young man is nonplussed and walks away. A mother hugs her son from the back as he sits in chair and he begins to cry. She orders him several times not to see a young woman who has a scar on her wrist that indicates a suicide attempt; she keeps tormenting him and hugging him until he promises not to see the woman, even though he is in love with her. A mother visits her college-aged son in a hospital and tells him his father is crazy, screaming as he drives, shouting at customers, yelling at her continually and ruining the family butcher shop business; she says that she plans to divorce him and that she hates him. In a college chapel, a pastor/professor shouts at students, berating them because a drunken brawl occurred on the campus recently and because two students were suspended for cheating.
 In two flash forward scenes a slumped elderly woman sits in a nursing home staring at a rose wallpaper pattern that contains bouquets of roses like those she took to a boyfriend in the hospital long ago. A college official tells a male student that the student's college girlfriend had a nervous breakdown and was taken by ambulance to a psychiatric hospital, where she will likely never recover; the dean says the girl had a history of shock treatments. A man tells a story about a woman in a butcher shop smelling a chicken's beak and rear end and an employee asked her if she herself could pass such an inspection; the woman picked up a large knife and attacked, but did no damage and the employee was fired.
 A dream sequence shows a man and a woman running a butcher shop; the man opens a cold storage locker to see his father sitting in a corner, crying and the son closes the door and kisses the woman passionately for several seconds. A butcher shop scene shows two men wearing bloody aprons as they cut beef and we see racks of ribs hang on bare walls in the shopping area; a man picks up two plucked chickens and shows them to a woman.
 A college dean learns that a male student hired another student to attend required chapel services; the student walks out of the dean's office and the camera cuts to him as a GI in the Korean Conflict. A college uniformed ROTC unit marches and drills with rifles in two background scenes.
 A nurse picks up a large bedpan and tells a young man, "I need you to do some business for me," as the scene ends. A nurse brings a young man a crutch and tells him to walk in the halls with it; he uses it under one arm as he walks in a heavy robe and long pajamas.

PROFANITY 5 - About 2 F-words, 7 sexual references, 1 scatological term, 3 anatomical terms, 2 mild obscenities, name-calling (slut, crazy, nutcase, fortune cookie, square, blasphemers, adulterers, blowhard, moron, queer, monster, blind, weak, unstable, sordid, preposterous, heathen, Commie), exclamations (shut-up, keep your mouth shut), 8 religious exclamations (e.g. Thank God, For Christ's Sake, Oh Christ, Oh My God, My God, A Prayer In Hebrew, A Christian Prayer). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A close-up shows about a dozen small cups of various prescription pills ready to deliver to nursing home patients, a nurse gives a cup of pills to a patient (we do not see the pills ingested), a woman says that she was drunk at a party once and no longer drinks any alcohol, and a man in a bed under sheets speaks in a voiceover and says that he received an anesthetic. A man smokes as he butchers beef in his shop, a man dreams that he and a woman smoke in a butcher shop, two young men hold cigarettes in a driveway, a man smokes a pipe in a fraternity house, a woman says that her husband smoked three packs of cigarettes in one sitting, and a male college student smokes in his dorm room.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Mortality, belief, atheism, Judaism, Christianity, Communism, control, religious abuse, false piousness, conservatism, overprotective parents, only children, naiveté, college culture, expectations, personal convictions, false accusations, blame placing, unfairness, scrutiny, punishment, war, the military draft.

MESSAGE - Overprotective, overly pious and controlling adults can cause tragedy in the lives of young people.

Special Keywords: S6 - V5 - P5 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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