Monday, 11 January 2016

Revolutionary Road, 2008

This is my entry for Tuesday’s Overlooked Films, Audio and Video over at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

It was a coincidence that just the day before Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet won Golden Globes for The Revenant and Steve Jobs, respectively, I watched the two in Revolutionary Road, an intense and at times depressing family drama that exposes the soft underbelly of “happily” married couples.

In 2008, Winslet won Golden Globes for Best Actress and Actress of the Year, including for The Reader. DiCaprio and director Sam Mendes failed to convert their nominations into what would have been well-deserved awards.

DiCaprio and Winslet play Frank and April Wheeler who live on Revolutionary Road in a Connecticut suburb with their two children. They seem content with their quotidian middle-class existence, he as an ordinary salesman in the company where his father worked for many years and she as a dutiful wife who manages home and the kids.

Mendes doesn’t waste time with the niceties of married life. No sooner the film is underway he tears away the veil of matrimonial bliss, at least in the eyes of their next-door friends Milly Campbell (Kathryn Hahn) and her husband Shep (David Harbour), and their real estate broker Mrs. Givings (Kathy Bates).

At the heart of the story lies April’s plan to migrate to Paris, in search of a new identity and a more fulfilling life as much for herself as for her family, which quickly turns into a nightmare as it conflicts with Frank’s own. From thereon, it’s downhill for the couple who are caught in a tangle of self-deception, frustration, anger, promiscuity, despair, and tragedy.



Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) has made a powerful film that lays bare the harsh realities of married life, the frailties of ordinary people, and how “happy” couples can be their own worst enemies. Although the director gives equal weightage to the characters of DiCaprio and Winslet, I thought this was actually Alice’s story. Full of zest for life, Alice aspires to become an actress again only to see her dreams crash, after her differences with Frank erupt like a volcano.

Not surprisingly, DiCaprio and Winslet give a splendid performance in Revolutionary Road, particularly in their nasty arguments and fights, their emotions and feelings of guilt, so typical of problems husbands and wives face in the real world. In that sense the film holds a mirror to marriages. DiCaprio deserved an award too.


Recommended.

14 comments:

  1. I've heard some very good things about this film, Prashant. I admit I've not (yet) seen it, but I do know that a lot of people I trust, such as yourself, have enjoyed it. And the book is a good 'un, too. I think I ought to look this one up...

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    1. Margot, I liked the film only because of the lead cast. Otherwise, the story is rather disturbing. In the end it is only a film.

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  2. this is one of my favorite books so the movie had to be very good to have me like it. It almost made it. Hard to film like Gatsby, I think.

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    1. Patti, I forgot to mention the book by Richard Yates. I'm not sure I want to read it so soon.

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  3. I purposely did not see the movie because the book made such a strong impression on me. I consider Richard Yates’ 1961 novel one of the great ones of the 20th century. He nailed life in the suburbs.

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    1. Elgin, I didn't know about Richard Yates and his book until I watched the film. The film was rather depressing and I'm in two minds whether to read it. I think I will eventually read it out of curiosity.

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  4. Both fine actors, but the movie sounds like a downer to me.

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    1. Oscar, you echoed my thoughts. It is a "downer," all right, but very well made.

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  5. Sorry, I'd sooner stick a fork in my eyes than watch these two.

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    1. Col, I quite like DiCaprio and Winslet, though I can't say the same for the film. They have acted really well.

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  6. Oh, that does sound depressing, Prashant. Maybe I will read the books someday.

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    1. Tracy, on the whole it is, but there are some nice moments too. I'm tempted to read the book though not just yet.

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  7. I read the book, and it was wonderful but depressing. I think it might be too grim to see the film too....

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    1. "Wonderful but depressing" — nicely put, Moira. The film is grim, all right. I was drawn to it by the cast.

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