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Monday, January 5, 2009

Film Review: Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road is Sam Mendes fourth film based on Richard Yates 1961 novel of the same name. Mendes delivers again a poignant drama with great performances and along with DP Roger Deakins one of the best looking films of the year. Revolutionary Road is the story of of two people who think they are special but begin to realize that they are mediocre. They decide to break out of this mediocrity by packing up the family and start anew in Paris. They are both re energized by this idea at first, but life gets in the way and the plan begins to fail. Once the plan fails the Marriage and their life falls apart. Leonardo DiCaprio is good as Frank Wheeler, a man bored with his life and job. Frank is bored, but he is a responsible adult who loves his kids and seems content with being like everyone else. He has a job with a good future, takes pride that he can support his family, and is beginning to see that his father wasn't a failure just because he wasn't "special". Kate Winslet's April is a different story.

April Wheeler is a failed actress who feels forced to live life as a mother and housewife. She has never traveled like Frank, he was in the Army and works in the city, and the move to Paris is her idea. Her life is claustrophobic with routine visits from neighbors and housekeeping and never gets to escape her suburban cage. Kate Winslet is magnificent and the second half of the film belongs to her. You slowly begin to see that change is 100% her idea and she just uses her husbands situation as a chance to be free. Frank has made almost every decision that has led them down this path and probably only married him because of early promises of greatness. She's a empty void when her dreams are taken away and becomes a tragic figure. Even though they feel mediocre their neighbors think of them as extraordinary and at times jealous of their originality. The supporting cast is fantastic and they keep the film afloat and give you a break from the Wheelers self loathing. David Harbour is really good as the neighbor who is in love with April and envious of the Wheelers life. The standout of the entire picture is Michael Shannon who plays Kathy Bates son who has just got out of a psychiatric ward. He is brutally honest and seems to be the one person who understands what the Wheels are going through. One problem I had with the film is how conveniently the children are absent. They always seem to be out when their is fighting and the Wheelers always have time to hang out with friends whenever they want. It's a reverse Charlie Brown Syndrome and after awhile it begins to bother you that they are never around for anything. This film would have had more of a impact on me when I was 18-20 years old and I thought I was destined for greatness. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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