- Sam Mendes
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sam Mendesís American Beauty (1999) was a masterful dark comedy about suburban life, but this is quite a different take; thereís nothing funny about Revolutionary Road except for a couple of witty remarks in the midst of the storming conversations and discussions that abound in the tumultuous script, which is talky, to be sure, but poignant.
The story, set in the 1950s, is about a Connecticut married couple with two children who struggle to deal, he with his excruciatingly meaningless job and she with her dead-end housewife existence. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play this couple and start discussing from the third scene on, but itís thankfully not the kind of movie thatís about two people tearing each other apart for the hell of itóthese two have love going on, hopes and dreams, and face countless barriers and tumbles. When they fight, they mean it, but when they hope, they live! How their dreams are constructed and how reality falls upon them is outstandingly achieved, and itís mostly through conversation, which is even more surprising.
And though itís talky, itís never theatrical. The interaction of Frank and April Wheeler is usually explosive, easily surpassing the four walls inside which they take place. Winslet and DiCaprio are absolutely superb in their heartfelt performances. Given the nature of her character, though, she is the standout of the two. Yet, there is a character that shakes the story unexpectedly right in the middle which, expertly played by Michael Shannon, is a scene-stealer. Kathy Bates, as a rather nosy neighbor (and the aforementioned characterís mother), is also quite good.
The setting is a perfectly reproduced suburbia which rather emphasizes the dreadful monotony and claustrophobia of lives designed to produce an image of comfortable peace that actually create quite the opposite inside. The story, which won Yates a Pulitzer Prize, dared defy the picture-perfect peace of such homes. Whatís the point, asked someone to me. To explain countless tragedies, I replied.
Let me finish with a little spoiler-ridden analysis of the character of April Wheeler. I fell in love with this character. She dreams of something completely different for her but is at the same time consciously stuck in her own paradigms. To escape, she defies conventionalism, but instead of denouncing it she adapts it to her own limitations. To flee her home, she must convince her husband of going to Paris, based on a comment he once made. Itís crazy, but he goes for it. Once he starts questioning the idea, she conforms, though rebellion grows inside of her, as something else, a baby, also grows in her womb. The outburst is finally fatal and self-destructive, but haunting enough to affect, for instance, the lives of neighbors Shep and Milly Campbell (David Harbour and Kathryn Hahn). April is thus a rebel who fights for a cause in spite of herself and never acknowledging it. To her, sheís a victim of bad luck and close-mindedness, but in actuality sheís as guilty as chance. Arenít we all. But she rebelled. Few of us do.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter