Monday, January 26, 2009
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
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