Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Revolutionary Road

So what is this one about?
Well, I took the movie poster from wikipedia (since again, I couldn't find a poster on google) so I may as well take their summary.

Set in 1955, the plot focuses on the hopes and aspirations of self-assured Frank and April Wheeler, who have forsaken life in the city in order to raise their children in the Connecticut suburbs, where they see themselves as very different from their neighbors in the Revolutionary Hill Estates.

April is an aspiring actress who has grown dissatisfied with her life as a suburban housewife and proposes a move to Paris to her husband as a means to reinvigorate their fading marriage. Frank, who despises his job, initially likes the idea, and it is as though a whole new life has been breathed into their relationship. But when the healthy salary increase connected to a promotion at Knox Business Machines makes his position there easier to bear, he becomes less enamored with his wife's proposal. He begins drinking too heavily and engages in an affair with a young secretary from the office in celebration of his 30th birthday, while April has a tryst of her own with neighbor Shep Campbell.

As the Wheelers try to free themselves from their dull existence, their marriage slowly dissolves into an endless cycle of bitter arguments and jealous recriminations while they struggle to maintain a facade of domestic bliss. Only John Givings, the institutionalized son of local realtor Helen and her husband Howard, is able to see what's simmering beneath their surface.

And I would say that is pretty accurate of a description for the film, focusing on what Sam Mendes focused on in his adaptation of Richard Yates' book.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Nothing, because my mom and I trucked it to Bethesda in order to see it (because it wasn't showing anywhere in Virginia) and she paid. Per usual.

And what did I think?
Well, as everyone who reads this little bloggy here likely already knows, I have been dying to see this movie since I saw a preview for it during an episode of Mad Men Season that was easily three months ago. Then I read the book over Halloween and that just solidified my desire to see it. Dang dang dang. So, its about dang time. My expectations for this film were high, probably unmatchably high--unless I had directed it, of course--and it didn't meet them. It was quite good though, and the longer it went on the more I warmed up to it. So, without futher we go!! Revolutionary Road...

While I was reading the book I could just imagine Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Kate Winslet as April...they were perfectly cast in my mind. However, due to some changes in the plot from the novel to the film, we as the audience missed out on some serious character exposition of April. However, Kate Winslet made up for it a little bit towards the middle/end by showing her character development. Though, maybe I just thought that because of the narration that I was missing. Leonardo DiCaprio was also terrified at the end for his wife, but at the very end he didn't seem as dead inside as I would have liked. Again, because there was no narration (Frank is the narrator in the book) the audience didn't understand how carefully calculated some of his actions and words were, so he came off as a bit of a clod.

At the begining I was disappointed that the actors didn't portray their characters the way I imagined them, but towards the middle and end they really snapped into their roles. Kate was on fire as angry April and Frank was scared and yet, not scared for the right reason. And good lord, the actor who played Helen Givings' son John was amazing. He stepped into his role and became the narrator, explaining to the audience what the hell was going on. He was amazing. AMAZING. [EDIT: He did get nominated (Michael Shannon, who played John Givings), but he is also up against everyone's fave, Heath Ledger. But, He should win, he was amazing in this movie!!]

Some of the cinematography choices really hit home one of the themes of the film (the surburban cookie cutter depressing repetition) and did it in a very subtle but hard hitting way. Kudos. Also, the fact that they made Leonardo DiCaprio a little fat was an awesome choice.

I suppose it is hard to cut a book into a movie (though I'd like to try someday) and there are parts that need to be edited. However, I was very pleased with the cutting of this book into a script, it was able to keep most of the plot integrity and yet make it shorter. Oddly enough, the movie seemed much shorter than I expected. And, as far as awards talk goes, I don't think Winslet will win for this film. I think she has a better chance for her acting the The Reader. And DiCaprio may get nominated, but he probably wont win either (because there are lots of bigtime male actors this season). But, the guy who played John, holy crap, he should get nominated and win for best supporting actor. He was top notch. Flipping top notch.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Who am I kidding? My expectations were way too high for this film. I thought, and hoped against hope, that it might be able to, but it couldn't. It was no American Beauty, afterall.

I give it an 8.

Let this be a lesson to everyone, never get your hopes up too high for an excellent book that is being made into a film. Even if Leonardo DiCaprio is attatched to it [see World War Z]


sickboy said...

Ha! You know what they say. A book always ruins a good film.

I will be looking to check this out purely for the vision that is KW.

Respect is due to someone who has both ELF and Der Untergang on the same viewing list.

this is not a joke said...

hahaha, thanks for noticing my incredibly schizophrenic viewing list.

I try to get a good variety of films.