Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revolutionary Road (Review)

     After being tricked into seeing "Titanic," I said a lot of cruel, hurtful things about Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  I was wrong about all of them and "Revolutionary Road" is the thesis statement in the argument against all those terrible things I said.  True, both actors have proven themselves many times over before this movie came out, but this biting critique of suburban life in the early 1960's is almost the antithesis of beautifully made yet vacuous love tragedy of "Titanic."  (Kathy Bates gets to redeem herself as well!)

    "Revolutionary Road" is a film adaptation of a Richard Yates novel by the same name.  It shines an intelligent and unforgiving light on the illusion of happiness created in suburban America.  Frank and April Wheeler, played by Winslet and DiCaprio, are a couple who are a little bit too intelligent for suburban life, but have fallen into it anyway.  Both are bored and unsatisfied with the lives they've chosen and are looking for something more.  Inspiration strikes as they revive a youthful dream of living in Paris and prepare to make good their escape from the tedium and shallow depths of their 'perfect' suburban home and lives on Revolutionary Road.  However, cruel fate steps in and they must make a moral choice to stay in their suburban nightmare or end April's newly discovered pregnancy, sacrificing their unborn child for their own happiness.   The drama is realistic and tense and the satire biting as the couple struggles with what to do.

     "Revolutionary Road" is, indeed, a masterful work.  The dialogue is incredible, the plot is thought provoking, the source material is, well, Yates, and Winslet and DiCaprio prove, once again, that they are not simply a couple of good looking faces, but, rather, great actors in their own right.  The best performance, however, was had by Kathryn Hahn, who plays neighbor Milly Campbell.  Young actors could learn a lot from watching the subtly of her facial expressions as she tries to keep the crumbling mask of happiness from revealing the utter desperation of a hollow and meaningless existence found beneath it.  Dylan Baker also puts forth a great performance as Jack Ordway, who refuses to play along with the suburban facade, speak the truth about what he sees, and is considered insane because of it.  

I was very disappointed when I didn't get to see "Revolutionary Road" in a theater, but the wait was well worth it. 

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