Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reviewing Revolutionary Road

The Sam Mendes film, Revolutionary Road, was a darling for the awards season last year. Kate Winslet, the director’s wife, was excellent in the film and was duly rewarded for her work. Leonardo DiCaprio came up award-less, but was effective in the film as well.

DiCaprio and Winslet play a young married couple in a suburban neighborhood that seems to do little more than stifle their passions, their creativity, their love for one another and their dreams. They are trapped and cannot see a way out.

This couple seems trapped- no, they are trapped. They are popular with their neighbors. He has a good job and although he hates his work, he is in line for a great promotion. They are young, attractive, successful. Everything certainly seems perfect in their world, but neither is happy. Their unhappiness manifests itself in their frustrations with their lives. She longs to be an actress. He wants to be free. And ultimately they are both miserable. They would be miserable alone, but they are miserable together and with each other.

There are lots of problems here.

  • To begin with, I was shocked at how casually both partners engage in illicit relationships. There seem to be no doubts, no reservations and no regrets on the part of either. If this is how real people really think, no wonder there are so many marriages in trouble today.
  • The most significant issue of the movie, and the marriage, is that neither partner is capable, or maybe willing, to communicate with the other. They make decisions without talking about them or their consequences. The marriage disintegrates because no one is willing to deal with truth, or real emotions.
  • The only reasonable and truthful person in this movie is the person who is viewed as mentally unstable. Even though he is emotionally unbalanced and recently released from an asylum, he is the only “normal” person in the movie.
  • The issue of abortion is dealt with in this film. I will not disclose too much here because I do not want to spoil the plot, but there are seriously ethical questions about what are acceptable ways of escape from a bad situation.

Revolutionary Road is a good movie, but it is very sad. There are not a lot of positive messages or hopeful thoughts. It is worth watching, but it is not easy or uplifting.

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