karen's Reviews > Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
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Nov 29, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: sad-burbia

watching this movie last night made me want to read the book immediately after. and it's not a terrible movie, it's just a little... hammy, and the tone is uneven - whether these people are meant to be seen as victims of the stultifying, euthanizing effects of suburbia, or if they are at root unlikable people who deserve to be taken down a peg for their arrogance and their conviction that their involvement in this thing we call "suburbia" is just playacting, not to be taken seriously. the book doesn't waver, not to me. i always read it as a story of awful people poisoning each other and blaming their wasted lives on each other instead of taking responsibility for their own shortcomings, which, being a generally unsympathetic person, i can applaud. and his writing - absolutely wonderful.

the real character in this novel of course, is suburbia. soul-sucking, dream-gutting suburbia that neutralizes all its inhabitants and blandifies the pointy, interesting bits. this isn't the lynchian or music for torching view of the suburbs/small-town charm, where the beneficence of suburbia is compromised by its seedy undertones. suburbia, here, is the aggressor, slowly draining its characters of any charms and releasing them back into their after-dinner drinks and their morning commute to the office. and woe if you think you are somehow special or "above it all", particularly if, like the wheelers, your aspirations outweigh your capabilities and your "specialness" is only ego. i grew up in a version of suburbia, and while it wasn't in the same time period, and it wasn't as bad as all this, the writing struck a chord in me and it's good that i am away. suburbia is a bitch, but at least they'll always have paris...

oh, wait.
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Comments (showing 101-140 of 140) (140 new)

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message 101: by Ben (last edited Feb 08, 2011 10:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben The book is a billion times better! They are so different.... Yet Ellen put up pictures from the movie in her review. Hmmm....


Michelle You so craza, Ben Harrison. This is the rare instance where the movie surpasses the book.


Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" Please say the movie isn't better than the book. PLEASE!


Michelle You just don't like Leo.


message 105: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen for me, it is just the tone that is off. it is somehow not bleak enough. elizabeth knows how i roll.


message 106: by j (last edited Feb 08, 2011 12:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i think the movie is too bleak. it doesn't have any of the sardonic bite that the prose gets across. it's just yelling. on the other hand this makes the characters less complex and thus less pathetic, so maybe that is correct.

basically the movie literalizes too much of the novel. that's not a word.


Esteban del Mal What Joel said/wrote.


message 108: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen y'know how on mad men every once in a while they take don draper out of his element and they show that he is not the king of every single thing?? like in the bar in the first (?) episode and with the cool beatniks?? it humanizes him, so he is not just one-dimensional.

there are certain nuances in the book; episodes necessarily cut from movie-length that go a long way towards intensifying the pathos of frank wheeler in particular.


message 109: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen also, what elizabeth wrote


message 110: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j right, like the movie doesn't get across any of frank's daddy issues, feeling like he can't live up to this idealized vision of manhood that his father represented. i remember the scene where he compares his soft hands to his father's rugged ones. there's the weird tension between feeling pride at having broken away from the father and yet never really living up to his manhood. frank is a really sad dude. in the movie he just seems like a huge asshole.


message 111: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen exactly!!

i don't have much sympathy for mrs wheeler, though. her desperation is less affecting.


Esteban del Mal karen wrote: "also, what elizabeth wrote"

It's always what Elizabeth wrote! What about MY needs!


message 113: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen you were just agreeing with joel!!


message 114: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! karen wrote: "you were just agreeing with joel!!"

Translation: "What ABOUT your needs! Dust on the wind."


message 115: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j karen wrote: "exactly!!

i don't have much sympathy for mrs wheeler, though. her desperation is less affecting."


i think that's yates' fault. she's somewhat underwritten, and her final action in particular is a bit underdeveloped/unmotivated (what was she trying to accomplish? what did she fear?). probably yates, being a man, had less of a grasp on how to hone in on her psyche.


message 116: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen yeah, prolly.

my own personal shit might be edging in on that, though, too.


message 117: by Ben (last edited Feb 08, 2011 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Also, making her less sympathetic in turn makes him more sympathetic. There's always a give and take between two forces.


message 118: by Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" (last edited Feb 08, 2011 01:01PM) (new)

Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" Esteban wrote: "What Joel said/wrote."

YES. Both times.

Make that all the times.


message 119: by Ben (last edited Feb 08, 2011 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Also, I'm not so convinced that the ending wasn't supposed to be more tragic for Frank. I'm not sure she *SPOILER, People* wanted to live; if she did, she at least knew she didn't belong. He on the other hand thought he had found meaning. And he thought he felt love for her. (He even decided to stop sleeping with the gal from work; sounds stupid, but it's a clue.) And then it all vanished.


message 120: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" wrote: "Esteban wrote: "What Joel said/wrote."

YES. Both times.

Make that all the times."


everyone agrees with me!


Esteban del Mal Joel wrote: "Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" wrote: "Esteban wrote: "What Joel said/wrote."

YES. Both times.

Make that all the times."

everyone agrees with me!"


I disagree!


message 122: by Ben (last edited Feb 08, 2011 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Except for Ellen ; )

And Paul Bryant, even though he hasn't read the book....


message 123: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j Esteban wrote: "Joel wrote: "Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh" wrote: "Esteban wrote: "What Joel said/wrote."

YES. Both times.

Make that all the times."

everyone agrees with me!"

I disagree!"


i guess we'll have to agree to disagree, then. which means we agree.


Esteban del Mal Eh?Eh! wrote: "karen wrote: "you were just agreeing with joel!!"

Translation: "What ABOUT your needs! Dust on the wind.""


I think Frank needed a wife like Eh?/! You know, the kind that don't cuss and repress their hostility so it manifests itself in more clinical ways.

Photobucket

You dirty little birdie.


message 125: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Esteban wrote: "I think Frank needed a wife like Eh?/! You know, the kind that don't cuss and repress their hostility so it manifests itself in more clinical ways."

Translation: "What Joel said! But less coherently!"


You dirty little birdie.

Translation: "Spank me."


message 126: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I wish I could take sides.


message 127: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Yates is known as "the writer's writer," Mariel. I'm pretty sure you'll dig. Gonna read it soon?


message 128: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I'll see what I can do. (I won't just uh rent the movie or anything. Honest!)


message 129: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j yeah don't. the movie isn't just a pale imitation of the book, it is downright bad. it's nearly a parody of itself.


message 130: by Mariel (new)

Mariel It does look bad.


message 131: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen there are worse adaptations of books - i just thought it flattened everything that was interesting about the book.


message 132: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j karen wrote: "there are worse adaptations of books - i just thought it flattened everything that was interesting about the book."

it is also histrionic and overdirected to a fault. there is no life in any of it. it's like watching one of april's plays as described in the book: a bunch of people frantically overacting to create an impression of a classy, artsy production.

it is pretty though.


message 133: by Millie (new) - rated it 5 stars

Millie Oh Joel, watch it again, with book in hand. Of course they are "hammy" that is the self-consciousness of the characters they so brilliantly inhabit
Read the scene of Frank's "day after" hatching the Paris plan with yes, the stagey, the actressy April. Every nuance as Yates wrote it is there, in Leo's walk and face and the way he takes the mike and says what he says.


message 134: by Millie (new) - rated it 5 stars

Millie Oh Joel, watch it again, with book in hand. Of course they are "hammy" that is the self-consciousness of the characters they so brilliantly inhabit
Read the scene of Frank's "day after" hatching the Paris plan with yes, the stagey, the actressy April. Every nuance as Yates wrote it is there, in Leo's walk and face and the way he takes the mike and says what he says.


message 135: by Millie (new) - rated it 5 stars

Millie Oh Joel, watch it again, with book in hand. Of course they are "hammy" that is the self-consciousness of the characters they so brilliantly inhabit
Read the scene of Frank's "day after" hatching the Paris plan with yes, the stagey, the actressy April. Every nuance as Yates wrote it is there, in Leo's walk and face and the way he takes the mike and says what he says.


message 136: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen third time's the charm!


message 137: by Millie (new) - rated it 5 stars

Millie Arghh! The server or something was slow and I wasn't sure if the message went through and clicked a bunch of times.... And realized too late -- that Joel was responding to Karen, and I should have been also. So embarrassing. I apologize but I stand by my love of the performances in that movie. I said it, I'll say it again. Three times. Uh, sure.Yeah, that's right.


message 138: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen no, i like your enthusiasm!


message 139: by Cecily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cecily "the real character in this novel of course, is suburbia"

Very true, and now that you point it out, I realise that some of my favourite novels have a place at their heart, rather than a person.


message 140: by karen (new) - rated it 4 stars

karen yes, or at least where it is as much of a character as the people characters, as in hardy or steinbeck


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