Saturday, November 14, 2009

Revolutionary Road. A

From 'Reservation Road' to Revolutionary Road,' two movies with similar titles, but that are different in just about every other way. in 1961 Richard Yates novel 'Revolutionary Road' received acclaim. It was a bleak, truthful, emotional powerhouse about suburban life and the American dream. I have read the novel and upon finishing it it immediately struck me as brilliant. Those same words can be used for my reaction to Sam Mendes' ('American Beauty') film version. I don't think a better job could have been done. This is one of the best adaptations from page to screen I've seen. Not only is it extremely faithful to its source, but it also brings the emotional texture of the book to life in grand form. I've seen it twice now and it rings true even more with the second viewing. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple with two children, a nice house, a city job for Frank, and plenty of time for April to be that ideal stay-at-home mom. But they feel trapped in their suburban life, especially April, who doesn't want life to just slip away. So she comes up with the plan that they move to Paris so Frank can really find what he wants to do with his life. Frank goes along with this idea, but the plan seems far-fetched and a bit too preposterous. We can sense something is bound to go wrong. And it does. April gets pregnant and Frank gets a promotion at his work. Their quest for the dream falls through, and their life begins to spiral out of control. There's lots of fighting that goes on between April and Frank, especially at the end, when the movie gets quite challenging. We sort of understand Frank, but April seems to a complete mystery-even a creep at times. DiCaprio and Winslet hadn't made a film together since 'Titanic.' They certainly chose the right one. They're perfect together in this. DiCaprio excels as Frank, giving nothing less than a tour-de-force performance. Michael Shannon also has a great role as the disturbed son of two of the Wheeler's friends. There's an eerie, at times even darkly comic quality to 'Revolutionary Road.' I got the same feeling while reading the book. This is a movie where I think it's vital that the novel be read first. It digs deeper into the character's inner feelings, and so when we watch them on screen, we understand them more.

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