Sunday, January 25, 2009

outside established procedures

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)
** (worth seeing)

Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road, based on the novel by Richard Yates, is a period drama about divorce that's tense, tragic and might make you want to cry as it frankly deals with how two people come to terms with their unfulfilled expectations in marriage. The film tries to expose the underlining motivations of modern day society by examining its roots in 1955 post-war America. A great adaptation of the book that was trying expres the restraints that the Eisenhower society had on individuals and the people that went along or against it. April [Kate Winslet] has a romantic encounter with Frank [Leonardo DiCaprio] at a party that spirals them into a heady marriage. She starts off as a struggling actress that eventually becomes a house wife. He goes from working measly small job to a boring office job he hates. But before the melancholy settles in when they first met he confesses to her that he has high hopes but is unsure of what he wants to do in life. She is led to believe a life with him would
be full of excitement, perceiving him as ambitious and different, while in reality this blasé statement describes his idle approach to life and his uncertainty. They start out truly happy together, for a while at least, and you can see it in their enjoyment in the time they spend together alone. After getting a routine job and two children and settling down in a nice house on Revolutionary Road they make plans to sell the house and car to move to Paris. There April will support them while Frank will figure out what he really wants to do with his life. But through dumb luck Frank is offered an up and coming position at Knox Business Machines. Then the new job, social pressures, a baby on the way and the fright of trying something new creates a rift between them. April strong unfulfilled desire to move to Paris prods her to re-evaluate her life. She is no longer her fresh and capricious self. Her responses become a mere formality, a social reaction to meaningless words and statements. As their friends mentally ill son Jon Givings [Michael Shannon] poignantly puts it their lives are both hopelessness and empty. April, after a terrible fight between her and Frank, goes off into the woods for solitude and contemplation, she realizes she is trapped in this suffocating society and decides to reevaluate her fate. The film is worth seeing for the intense performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the complexity of the characters, and the charm of the 1950's.—David Davidson

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