If Scott Rudin thinks Philip Roth’s latest, as-yet-unpublished novel, Indignation, is “the one” that will finally, coherently translate to the big screen, who am I to argue? He’s got a very impressive track record when it comes to adapting smarty-pants tomes by smarty-pants authors, and he’s got access to some of the best filmmakers in the world (e.g. Joel & Ethan Coen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Mike Nichols, Wes Anderson and Joe Roth).
Still, I’m skeptical. Roth’s novels are wonderful reads for their elegant prose and sharply conveyed ideas; though he lay down a tight little story if he wants (this is why the forthcoming The Dying Animal, written by Nicholas Meyer and directed by Isabel Coixet, might actually succeed as a movie), he’s anything but straightforward in his plotting. This isn’t to say he’s a droningly prolific gasbag like John Updike, but I can’t think of anything he’s written – that I’ve read, at least – that would qualify as “conventional”. And modern screenwriters get flustered (and stupid) when narratives won’t behave; they tend to cheat and simplify. Do yourself a favor and don’t look at Love in the Time of Cholera as a prime example.
Indignation won’t hit book stores until September, but I’m sure Rudin has the galleys out to a handful of reasonably intelligent filmmakers. He should send one to John Singleton just to be a dick.