Monday, January 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

It's hard to feel sorry for people as good-looking as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, but their roles in Revolutionary Road make you do so. I'm one of the three people in the world who never saw Titanic (I suspect the other two probably read this blog) so I never saw them in that disaster movie. But let's face it -- I don't like that kind of disaster. I'm drawn to the painful emotional disasters, the quiet miseries, the life you live and don't know how you got there. I've always loved the Richard Yates novel, but director Sam Mendes (of American Beauty and Jarhead fame) brings the sun-drenched, 1950s suburbs to us in an even more menacing way. Our main characters, April and Frank Wheeler, have it all -- beauty, youth, healthy children, a decent paycheck. Yet April feels trapped, stymied by her choices, and her solution is one we've all thought about at one time or another -- the geographic (an AA term for moving somewhere to solve your problems). Her geographic is Paris, a place Frank has been, but that she hasn't makes them happy for a bit. Until Frank's fear and her unwanted third pregnancy puts a damper on the dream.

A lot of this movie is very funny in large part because the viewer can see so much more than the characters, about their fights and tumults, affairs, dashed dreams. My favorite character is the mentally disturbed son of their realtor (a fantastic Kathy Bates); he brings a clarity to their lives which is wondrous to them initially until his gift of sight goes too far for their comfort. I suppose we all wish to be seen and understood. Until we don't. Until we are too lost, too disillusioned, too worn down. Then we wish to vanish, to become invisible. The house on Revolutionary Road becomes a ghost, a place where something terrible happens. That's hard to sell to anyone, but Kathy Bates shows shades of determination that made her such a force in movies like Misery and Dolores Claiborne. As she talks of the new couple in the house, she makes herself hate the Wheelers, because like them, she bought into their deception of specialness and cannot stand to be wrong.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing.” Richard Yates

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: The United States of Tara (I just started watching this and don't know what I think yet. Any opinions?)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


Charles Gramlich said...

I had not thought I'd enjoy that movie but your comments here are making me reconsider.

Mark Roy Long said...

I'm unsure which other reader of your blog didn't see Titantic but I never did, that's for sure. Tried to go see Revolutionary Road last night but wound up at the theater that WASN'T showing it so saw Slumdog Millionaire. The photography was just killer in it but I found the frame story a bit problematic . . .

Anonymous said...

I started reading the novel and decided just to remember Kate and Leo from Titanic, one of the greatest of all times because there are so many stories in it, all tied together. Nice review, though, especially focusing on Bates.--Oscar Winner

Tim said...

I never saw Titanic. I heard the boat still sinks, so what's the attraction?
I love Kathy Bates so I'll try to check the movie out, for her performance if nothing else.

jodi said...

Hiya Sweets, In "Titanic: there are plenty of emotional disasters as a boat load of people realize they are going to DIE any second. The way they die define them more than the way they lived. Also, my Brother gave my Mother "Enjoli" one Christmas, while singing that song. Yes, us girls can have it all. But who really wants it? xoxo

Dave Kowalczyk said...

Dr. Brooks:

Kathy Bates was in Titanic, too, playing the 'unsinkable' Molly Brown. She was in the movie for all of five minutes, but those five minutes were the only ones worth watching. Other than the Kate Winslet nude scene, where my wife said 'is't she a little too fat to be in a nude scene?' right in the middle of a theater in Wisconsin, where the average weight of the other viewers was approximately three quarters of a ton, including, unfortunately, myself.

chris said...

Ok,we can take the Enjoli woman, project her to this day and time. We would have to get her an equal salary though.

If she can do all that she says,you better believe I'll keep the house clean. I wonder if she would demand that I work as well ?

You missed one heck of a good time Friday night. But I do understand. I wound up in bed after 6 am Saturday.Catch you later.

Scott said...


I saw the trailer for this movie, but had no idea what it was about. This gives me a better idea, and makes me want to see it. So often we think that if we just moved somewhere else, everything would be better...but it doesn't always work out that way.

I haven't seen United States of Tara,so I can't comment on that.

I like this pic of you...the candles in the background are a nice touch. :)

Scott said...


Are those candles or lights? Oops! :)

the walking man said...

hmmmm Saw Titanic when it was released on disc. If I remember this review I'll probably see this one too when it comes out on disc.

Does it snow in Paris..if not that's where I want to be even if it's in a house with a past!

robthefob said...

I think Sam Mendes has a thing about 'specialness.' Unfortunately, so do I.

Laura Benedict said...

Does that make me the third? I knew I couldn't take the whole people-in-steerage-drowned scene.

Lana Gramlich said...

The previews for that movie seem too close to modern truth. I don't know if I'll watch it.
I, also, never watched Titanic (except the bit where the guy falls onto the propeller. How can you miss something like that?)
What is Kathy Bates NOT awesome in? I insist that she play me in the movie on my life. *L*