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Challenging drama, set in the early 1950s, in which a young Jewish man (Logan Lerman) wins a scholarship to an elite college where he forms an unusual bond with an emotionally troubled fellow student (Sarah Gadon) and butts heads with the school's traditionally minded dean (Tracy Letts). While writer-director James Schamus' adaptation of Philip Roth's 2008 novel is not for the casual moviegoer, neither the promiscuity engaged in by the unbalanced coed nor the philosophical atheism professed by the excessively intense protagonist are to be taken at face value. Grown and well-grounded viewers will recognize the subtleties calibrating the story - and its message.

Watch out for: Mature themes, including suicide and an ambivalent treatment of religion, brief violence with slight gore, discreetly portrayed but aberrant premarital sexual activity, fleeting irreverence, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one rough term, and several crude expressions.

Rated: L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; MPAA: R

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016