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Dramas > Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendez, 2009)

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message 1: by Phillip (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:49AM) (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments here's my review on revolutionary road. if you want my short review, here it is: wow.

no more SPOILERS than the usual road rash...

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendez, 2009)

The American Dream is an elusive thing and society has concocted two radically different messages to instruct us on how to conjure existential wholeness. On one side of the fence we are taught that our country was founded on rugged individualism and that we should always strive to be true to ourselves; there is no higher calling. From the other side of the fence we are viewed with contempt if we step outside whatever is constituted as normal society. We arouse suspicion if we long for something different than our friends and family, or imagine ourselves realizing our dreams somewhere outside the borders of our homeland.

Revolutionary Road examines the lives of a married couple that are locked securely in the American Dream of the post-war baby-boom generation: a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood, two healthy children, kind neighbors and a bread-winner on his way up the corporate ladder. The film doesn’t posit that there is anything intrinsically wrong with this lifestyle. It does suggest that this way of life will only work if you consciously choose it. It suggests that finding yourself blindly following the same career path as your father without ever asking yourself what you wanted out of life can lead to a road of ruin.

At the onset of the film, we are privy to a couple’s first meeting – a heated glance at a party turns into a conversation, a dance; it’s clear they are smitten with one another. Frank asks April what she loves and she has an answer. When she asks him the same question, he admits it would take years to know. It is clear our hero has no idea where he is headed or why. He is a veteran and longs for stability with a beautiful woman at his side. Frank marries April and they become The Wheelers - a handsome couple that everyone seems to admire.

From that point onward, it’s clear that April is longing for something else. She enters their life together as an aspiring actress but Frank ushers her from her dreams of living the life of an artist into a different existence. She surrenders to his will and produces two children. But the desire to give her husband the opportunity to discover something about himself, to discover what he truly loves, overwhelms her. She suggests they move to Paris (where he admits he once felt something truly amazing) and together they create a dream of leaving behind the life they realize they never really chose in the first place.

Things rarely go as planned, and the remainder of the film is concerned with how this couple manages to live for themselves and each other as their personal motivations begin to cause them to drift apart. The performances are really something. Leonardo di Caprio has really matured into a fine actor and Kate Winslet has always blown me away. I can’t think of a better actress from her generation; the subtleties of her work in this movie are really something to marvel. Kathy Bates leads a fine supporting cast - everyone seems perfectly integrated into the fabric of the film. The direction by Sam Mendez (Mr. Kate Winslet) is nearly flawless – every scene seems beautifully sculpted, the emotional ranges of the performances are in concert, the pacing and the flow of the narrative are crafted like a great tragic symphony. There are a few moments when the dialogue seems overly concerned with offering us the nuts and bolts of the philosophy of the film, but those are small considerations consdering the wealth of great things Revolutionary Road has to offfer.

This is one of the better films about relationships, not only on the level of how people relate to one another, but how your own individual choices can affect the lives of others close to you. Highly recommended.

message 2: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Thanks Phillip! I was tempted to shy away from this because I think AMERICAN BEAUTY is one of the most overrated movies (next to CRASH & THE DEPARTED) of the last ten years...hated it except for Chris Cooper's performance. Now, I loved the idea of the film but just thought it trite and obvious. Maybe I need to revisit to appreciate with new cinematic lenses attached to my corneas:) Anyway, you're review inspires me to watch this so it will go in my Netflix queue.

message 3: by Phillip (last edited Jan 19, 2009 10:20PM) (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments this is a very different film from american beauty. it is stripped of all the stylistic holier than thou omniscient voice-over, no opulent images of flowers falling on bodies, no self-referential film-within-a-film motifs, no pot-humor, no heavy-handed morally confounded climaxes (but a powerful climax nonetheless), just clear, sober storytelling - and a very moving story at that.

message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5188 comments Nice, Philip, thanks for the review. I was planning on letting this one go, as I just will never forgive Mendes for that AMERICAN BEAUTY thing. But Ms. Winslet is always worth a look.

message 5: by Phillip (last edited Jan 19, 2009 01:56PM) (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments yeah, she really is worth the attention. and like i said above, this is a very different film than american beauty.

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) Hi all - Phillip, I love your reference to Mr. Kate Winslet. I feel I have to mention the set design. In my opinion, they did not miss a beat; every detail was perfectly chosen, the toaster, the stove, glassware, etc. I've seen a lot of the movies I expect will be nominated for the Academy Awards, and so far this is best set design I've seen by far.

Phillip - without giving anything away, did you not love the very final scene?

message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments diane,

agreed - the visual sense was flawless.
yes, loved the final scene, and for the most part, the entire film.

message 8: by Holli (new)

Holli Loved this movie and the final scene was exquisite for its visual sense.

message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) I believe the son of Kathy Bates' and her husband got an academy award nomination for best supporting actor...well deserved, I thought he played a terrific role.

message 10: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments yeah, those dinner scenes with the man who played kathy bates' son were amazing and really well acted.

message 11: by Holli (new)

Holli Oh yes...he was great....I actually really enjoyed his part and agreed with alot of what he had to say. His honesty was refreshing in this movie!

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