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Bring out the Bomb Squad; Noyce’s American Pastoral Adds Some TNT in Dakota Fanning

They’ve shuffled the deck a little on Philip Roth’s American Pastoral since the project was first announced a decade back. Jennifer Connelly who was mentioned more than a decade ago along along with Phillip Noyce just signed on, and now Dakota Fanning is moving from exploding potential dams (Reichardt’s Night Moves) to playing with more TNT taking on the role of Merry (originally slated for Evan Rachel Wood). Filming takes place in Pittsburgh, next March.

Gist: Scripted by John Romano, Seymour “Swede” Levov (McGregor) is a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father’s Newark glove factory – comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. He grows up to marry a former beauty queen (Connelly) and inherits his father’s business. Swede’s seemingly perfect life shatters when his daughter Merry (Fanning) rebels by becoming a revolutionary and commits a deadly act of political terrorism during the Vietnam War. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizens, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history.

Worth Noting: Fanning has been an indie darling as of late — working with the likes of Amy Berg (Every Secret Thing – Tribeca ’14), Andrew Renzi (Franny) and Gerardo Naranjo’s untitled project — which are all highly anticipated  2015 titles.

Do We Care?: One of the most critically lauded novels of the naughts, Noyce who is one of the better helmers to adapt book material for the big screen, has a assignment ahead of him. A decade of prep time should help.


Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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