Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road
Released: December 26, 2008 (US), January 23, 2009 (Wide)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥
[official website] [wiki] [imdb]

Everyone talks about how wonderful love is and how you have to go after your dreams. No one ever talks about what happens when love is no longer wonderful or if your dreams just don’t work out. In Revolutionary Road, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (their first pair-up since Titanic, also with Kathy Bates) explore the many complications of love and what happens when things just don’t work out.

Frank and April Wheeler seem to have it all. They’re attractive, young and in love. You could even say they’re living the American Dream. However, much like their home on the Revolutionary Road, they may seem perfect on the outside but all it takes is a little prying to see what’s really inside. They kinda remind me of this drawing I made when I was a kid of a traditional American family. They all had blonde hair, blue eyes and a big white house on a hill.

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. Generally, the people who have seen it gave mixed reviews. In the end though, I was completely surprised. I didn’t expect I would be as affected as I was.

With Revolutionary Road, the hearts of dreamers all go out to Kate Winslet. Slowly, you see her dying and you start to reason with her. Paris had become so close to her. It wasn’t her way out, she said. It was her way in. In to a life away from monotony and play dates and the millions of mundane things she has to sit through. In Paris, they weren’t just going to be alive. They were going to live. It’s rare for an actress to pull off something that heavy and with this movie, Kate once again proves her worth. Aside from bagging a Golden Globe for her role in this film, she's also generating a lot of buzz for her performance in The Reader. Being one of today’s most underrated actresses, I’m glad she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.

Leonardo DiCaprio was a bit over the top. His gesticulations bothered me and it took away from the other elements of the scene. In some of the more emotionally loaded scenes, he’s got this permanent grimace on and it felt slightly uncomfortable. There is no doubt that he and Kate have this strange chemistry. I just wish he toned it down a little so that the audience would appreciate it, too.

Kathy Bates also gave a unique performance in this film. She’s usually the uptight mother or the washed up comic but in Revolutionary Road, she has a strange brain-washed kind of calm. I didn’t even recognize her at first. She seems like she's a voluntary Stepford wife and I didn't know she had that in her. She’s a great actress and it’s such a shame Hollywood doesn’t have many options for actresses over 50.

Writing wise, I was really amazed. The story came from a book but since I haven’t read it, I’m not exactly sure how much of it was put into the screen. At any rate, the ironies and metaphors were so beautiful, I could cry. Paris as a dream, babies as a reality, houses as people and the fact that the realtor's insane son was the only sane voice in the whole movie.

From the first five minutes, the movie grabs you and it takes you for a ride in a powerful emotional roller coaster. It’s a sad, precautionary tale of how love could go wrong. It paints a picture of married life that we don’t really see too much of. In the end, does love give way to compromise? I’m left with a lot of questions and once I feel a little less affected, I’ll probably see this movie again just so I can answer them. I haven’t seen anything as thought provoking in ages and I can only hope to see more movies of this caliber in the near future.