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Saturday, January 3, 2009

White People Have Problems Too In Revolutionary Road (2008)

I use that headline to make a point about Sam Mendes’s new beautifully crafted film Revolutionary Road. It Stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a couple who have fleeting moments of happiness, but mostly cannot find a way to satisfy their lost desires and dreams.

BUT The Wheelers have made it. April (Winslet) and Frank (DiCaprio) have the house with the white-picket fence and two kids. Frank works at a decent job he cannot stand and April is a fulltime housewife who had dreamed of being an actress. So what’s the problem?

Obviously if you were thinking that question you probably wouldn’t sympathize with April and Frank when they talking about wanting to feel alive and special. Or you won’t sympathize with each character when they start cheating or when April declares that she is trapped or when Frank says he doesn't want to end up like his father.

April is selfish, immature and aggressive. Frank is passive-aggressive, a coward and a smooth-talker. It was a match made in heaven and at times it becomes difficult to watch these two simmer and explode.

However Winslet and DiCaprio make Revolutionary Road and I couldn’t keep my eyes off their wonderful performances. And even though I had a problem with the wordiness of Justin Haythe’s script Winslet turns those overly intellectual speeches into pieces of terrifying venom and despair while DiCaprio turns those 50s misogynistic lines of power into spineless weapons of hope.

Through all the ugliness seething in Revolutionary Road emerges a wonderful, if a bit clunky, film. Michael Shannon as an electroshocked son of The Wheeler’s friends says most pointedly to them, “Plenty of people are on to the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness.”

I think we care about April and Frank because more often than not, we see it too.


Revolutionary Road on IMDB

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