Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes) 2008
Revolutionary Road is based off of a 1961 book of the same name. Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets April (Kate Winslet) at a party and soon get married. Flash forward a few years, they are living in a suburban house, Frank is working in the same depressing ad job his father died doing, and April has a meaningless boring life at home. April comes up with an idea to break out of their stagnant lives: sell everything and live in Paris. At first they are both excited for it, but Frank soon buckles with a possible promotion at work and other issues.
The one issue that I can see being a flaw for many people is the tone of the movie. The book is a strange but brilliantly executed mix of real, slice of life look at suburban hell with a mix of surreal elements and dark humor. Mendes does his best to translate that to the big screen, but it definitely works better in print form than in a visual media. For example, we have the character of John Givings. Our main characters meet this man who was a former mathematician who had a psychotic break and has had multiple shock treatments. People think he is crazy, but really he is the one man who speaks the unfiltered truth. I can definitely see people viewing his performance as scene chewing/over the top and out of place in a serious suburban drama. I hate to bring in crowd reactions (mostly because they act like imbeciles) but there were many nervous chuckles during those scenes because they weren’t quite sure how to take that performance.
Rev. Road certainly isn’t the most realistic movie: there are over the top arguments, dark twists of fate, and some melodramatic moments. And really, this is something you will either think brilliant or you will hate its guts. Its kind of like how people view Douglas Sirk movies in that they are either melodramatic garbage or brilliant subversive entertainment. DiCaprio gives a brilliant performance and Kate Winslet, as always, is great. Mendes does make Revolutionary Road a deserving adaptation of the book. I found it enjoyable, and I think if you go in knowing what the material is all about you will enjoy it too.
Oh and there is a strange trend that I am seeing that I wish I could talk about but I don’t want to spoil the movie. But it is a rather humorous trend if you know the movies of Winslet.