Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Sam Mendes is really good at making movies at depress the hell out of me.

What we have here is a very rough look at the plastic life of 50's American Suburbia through the eyes of Frank and April Wheeler (Leo and Kate), a young married couple who felt the pressure of society and "resigned from life", as they say.

The film starts out very well; we see how they meet, then BAM, they're married and with two kids. Before the title screen appears we've already seen one of their knock down, drag out wars (which, by the end, we will have gotten used to). It's a great great way to establish the setting. Okay, they're young, married, and unhappy.

Through more drama and infidelities, they decide that the time has come to be courageous and move away, far away, and start a life somewhere else, where-get ready for it-the wife will support the husband. Through this we see how different the Wheelers are from everybody else, despite how well they seem to fit the mold. They're depressed, and now I am too. But, it's refreshing to see married life portrayed so brutally, and (SPOILER ALERT) with no happy ending.

Mendes gives us a superficial world where ignoring someone is as easy as turning the volume on your hearing aid down. Or, getting over the loss of a friend by inviting the new neighbors over. It was a time when everybody was too busy over their martinis and cigarettes to give a damn about anybody else, as long as they all behaved the same. It's perfect.

I almost feel bad for thinking that the acting wasn't great. I rather felt that the two... Do you call them protagonists? I can't say I was definitely rooting for them. They both showed qualities that were far from admirable. Anyway, the two leads, I felt they overacted. I love Kate, I love Leo. But, they were not real great. Leo, I felt, was good when he was out of control. I think that kind of acting would be a fun challenge, and I think he took it and ran. Kate.... What happened? Maybe she'll be good in The Reader.

Just because it was sad, tough to watch, and made me numb, doesn't mean I didn't like it. On the contrary, I thought it was beautifully crafted. Heartbreaking, but beautiful.

They should call it Revolutionary Road, or further proof that Sam Mendes hates the suburbs.

Grade: B

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