This drama about a bright young Jewish boy from Newark attending a small, midwestern liberal arts college in the 1950s was adapted from a novel by Philip Roth, so you know you’re in for some pretty heavy philosophy and some pretty good head. The philosophy arrives courtesy of the dean of men (Tracy Letts), who clashes with the protagonist (Logan Lerman) over the existence of God and closely monitors his attendance at daily chapel; the head arrives courtesy of a pretty, forward classmate (Sarah Gadon), who wins the protagonist’s devotion but then turns out to be deeply troubled. As in so many of Roth’s novels, the action is dominated by male concerns and masculine codes of conduct, yet the most striking moment is a quietly fierce monologue from the boy’s mother (veteran character actress Linda Emond) in which she talks him down from marrying the fragile young woman. James Schamus, a longtime producer for Ang Lee, Todd Haynes, and others, directed his own script.