Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Revolutionary Road |
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
Director: Sam Mendes
Genre: Drama Rating: R Release Date: 2-JUN-2009 Media Type: Blu-Ray
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A Prison Within A Prison
Jimmy Lee | Manhasset, N.Y. United States | 02/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Adapted from Richard Yates first novel, Revolutionary Road exposes the adversities of a young couple living in a Connecticut suburban neighborhood during the 1950's who simply realize too late that they were never meant to be.
Frank Wheeler (Dicaprio) and April Wheeler (Winslet) feel as though they must standout from all the other mundane and ordinary suburbanites in their neighborhood. Frank, a marketer who works for Knoxx business (equivalent to IBM in those days) machines, is profoundly miserable at his job as he diligently works in a cubicle and engages in secretarial affairs with the novice typist. April, a struggling actress, who apparently never received her big break in show biz does not like to talk about her failures.
During the beginning of the film, we are introduced to a quick flashback of how they met at a party while they were younger; Frank exhibits his witty, charming charisma as he gives April the impression of eventually leading a spontaneous life in Paris in the future. However, the viewer only begins to find out that this was merely a sales pitch or a common characteristic of a marketer. On the contrary, April falls for it no less. Fast forwarding to the present, April now lives in an ordinary life on Revolutionary Road with Frank and her two children and receives frequent visits from her inquisitive real estate agent (Kathy Bates) accompanied with her "mentally unstable" son. April feels as though she is leading a very unsatisfying and unfulfilled life. To add some excitement in their relationship, April broaches Frank's former idea of actually pursuing a career and settling in Paris as a secretary because it simply pays handsomely; meanwhile, it will beneficially fit Frank because he can finally figure out what he wants to do with his life. Frank refuses at first because according to him it is just "unrealistic" but eventually obliges because he too feels as though they need something new and spontaneous to reinvent their relationship. Despite the neighbors and Frank's fellow co-workers disbelief in this "childish" and radical decision, things seem to go very smoothly in the Wheeler family; the house they just bought is now on sale, their belongings are packed, the children are excited, life could not be any better.
It all seems too swell for this tragic couple, when suddenly Frank is offered a promotion at his redundant job with a higher paying position, heavier responsibilities, and more importantly a chance to be apart of something great, the computer. Frank refuses this handsome offer from his boss at first because it interferes with their big trip to Paris. On the other hand, Frank cannot resist the temptation and is drawn to stay at this job because of the attachment he has regarding his father. We learn that Frank's father has also worked at Knoxx Business Machines for 30 years. It suggests as though Frank has a yearning desire to fulfill this empty legacy. On a different note, it strongly expresses Frank's inability to change and triumph over his trepidation. This couple struggles to achieve any sort of compromise as their lays a serious conflict of interest regarding their futures. April wants a lifestyle change in Paris; meanwhile, Frank is satisfied working in a miserable occupation with a higher salary. This relationship portrays that conflict of interest incessantly; it also shows how it affects their lifestyle and how they grapple with the consequences. It is not pleasant I rest assure you. (You'll see what I mean)
The bigger picture here is the heavy social commentary implemented in this film at almost every other scene. It reflects and exposes the culture of the 1950's, the struggles of an unhappy relationship, and the fine line between insanity and simply pure genius. It also sheds light upon questions such as what is insanity and what is mean to be medically and mentally unstable? The reality is that the real estate agent's son who is "mentally unstable" by society is the only one that possesses a real intellectual and realistic perception on the wheeler's relationship.(Go figure) The Wheeler's relationship and decisions are constantly being influenced by other people and we see this through Frank's work environment, the neighbors, and the real estate agent. April is victimized as a prisoner of culture and her difficulty of coping with the dynamics of the role of a wife during the 1950's. Some might question her role in the film and ask, well, why doesn't she just get a divorce, or leave Frank? It just wasn't that simple during that time period as it was considered taboo or dishonorable to leave or separate from your husband. April wishes she could leave the house but is drawn back to it like a magnet because she has two children, a husband, and could not possibly earn a lucrative living in those days considering the job opportunities available at that time period. In that regard, April is prisoner of the house, living in an inescapable environment. She is a prisoner living in a prison within a prison. Frank is a mere coward that cannot confront the social obstacles of change. Like April, Frank too, is a prisoner as well. Hence, my conclusion, a couple that was never meant to be.
Personally, I enjoyed this film not because of the setting, or from the great performances, but the realism that is portrayed here in this relationship. It is quite unique in the sense that the film does not sugar coat anything. Not to be too clichéd or anything but it echoes the expression "it is what it is". In that regard it may turn some people off. I happen to cherish and embraced this message. If you like this film, check out "A Doll's House" with Anthony Hopkins. Both are excellent but sad films. They express a similar struggle of a couple resisting to conform to society."
Andaluz | Claremont, CA USA | 02/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Revolutionary Road, set in 1950s suburbia, is the latest movie to deal with the disenchantment that sets in when life fails to meet expectations.
April (Kate Winslet), an acting student and Greenwich Village-dwelling bohemian, falls in love with Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio), and soon finds herself living the life of a suburban housewife and mother. April sees herself as a victim of suburban homogeneity and mediocrity, and longs for more than the ordinary life she shares with Frank. The reality, though, is that April lacks the gifts needed to have an extraordinary life. Her one true talent seems to be making other people miserable.
I found this movie hard to watch. At times the movie is as airless as the suburb it portrays. The nasty fights between the Wheelers become wearying, and there is nothing particularly fresh or original in this portrayal of a marriage gone wrong. There's a predictability in the downfall of the Wheelers; it's clear from the start of this movie that no one will find any measure of happiness. All that's left for the viewer to do is to guess how exactly the unhappiness will unfold.
For some reason, I found myself unmoved by April's unhappiness, and I'm not sure if this is the fault of the script or of Winslet's performance. April's despair seems a bit overwrought. Part of this may have to do with the fact that the Wheelers are not exactly stranded in the hinterlands. They live within commuting distance of one of the great cities of the world and yet their social lives seem to revolve entirely around suburban locales. Manhattan is only seen as a place where mind numbing work is done.
Leonardo DiCaprio does a fine job portraying the self-doubting Frank, but it's the supporting actors who are most memorable in this film. Many people are raving about Michael Shannon's performance as a mentally ill mathematician, but I also enjoyed Kathy Bates' nuanced portrayal of a busybody real estate agent.
I also enjoyed the final scene, which injects a bit of dry humor into what has been an increasingly grim affair.
OK - we get it...
kerouac's ghost | the void | 08/16/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
""Revolutionary Road" is based on the novel by the always cheerful Richard Yates. Of all the faults in the movie, the worst is that it wallows in that most tried and true of Hollywood cliches. America is a spiritual wasteland. The people who inhabit America, most specifically those of the middle class who live in suburbia, are empty and superficial. They hate their lives and their smiles only serve to hide the anger and sorrow inside their vacant souls. No American ever lived a fulfilling life after getting married, having kids and living in a nice house. If you have a job that is not artistic in nature, live in a suburban neighborhood and are saving money for your kids to go to college, this means you.
OK - we get it.
In my younger and more vulnerable years, I would have loved "Revolutionary Road". I would have loved it's pretensions to art. I would have loved the pessimism of it's view - so obviously fashionable though it be. Watching "Revolutionary Road" and Mendes earlier exact-same-movie-of-a-different-name, "American Beauty", is like sitting at a Parisian sidewalk cafe wearing dark sungless, smoking a cigarette and reading poetry (you pick the fashionable dark, brooding poet). Looks and sounds pretty cool, but in reality, not a lot going on.
In short, if you want to see really great actors wallow in contrivances and, if you are a suburbanite, want to know what the creative elite think of you, you could not do better than "Revolutionary Road". If it's art you are looking for, or just a good movie (or just something original), look elsewhere."
The Stuff That Great Drama Is Made Of
S. Schell | Mason, OH United States | 07/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy." - Richard Yates on his novel, "Revolutionary Road"
The above quote gives one a pretty good idea that "Revolutionary Road" is not a simplistic or feel-good film, rather a film that dares to imply that society is naïve, misled, too quick to conform, and that people lack the courage to do what truly makes them happy because they are too concerned with comfort and safety. It does this through the "everyday" couple, Frank and April Wheeler, and how it does so may touch a nerve or two in those who have ignored their hearts' desires or their discontent for the sake of sufficiency.
From the beginning, it is clear that the Wheelers' marriage is anything but happy. They are shown meeting at a party for the first time, locking eyes across the room and then the movie swiftly centers on their present relationship in 1955, the two of them married with children and consumed by their own disillusionment. To an outside observer, April (Winslet) and Frank (DiCaprio) are living the American dream, their comfortable lifestyle in suburban Connecticut seeming to include everything but the white picket fence. What bubbles beneath the surface is Frank's dissatisfaction with his compliance to conformity, his identity lost in a job he could care less about in the effort to support his family. April is equally dissatisfied with her role as a housewife, wanting something more exciting and meaningful than what everyone else is scrambling to achieve. The disappointment with their stations in life peaks when Frank has an affair with a secretary at his office on his 30th birthday (the day after a nasty argument with his wife), only to be surprised that evening by an apologetic April who has put on a pretty dress and baked a cake. She later stuns him with a proposal to move to Paris and Frank is dismissive of the idea at first, viewing it as nonsensical. When April begins to appeal to his ego, telling him that she will work to support the family while he spends time finding his true vocation, he warms to the idea and the move breathes optimism and romance back into their marriage.
Seemingly happy, the Wheelers begin telling their friends and acquaintances about their plan and are met with criticism, most deeming the move irresponsible and unrealistic. Frank begins to cave from peer pressure and when he is recognized at work for his efforts and offered a promotion, their plans become shaky. The clincher is April's unexpected pregnancy, an event that completely rules out Paris for Frank and has him taking the job offered to him. Crushed by Frank's decision to keep them in the wearisome lifestyle that has made them so unhappy in the first place, April becomes cold and despondent and what hope their marriage had of repairing itself crumbles quickly and climactically.
Great dramas ride high on illuminative dialogue and the execution of its main actors and both elements are in top form here - you'll rarely glimpse perfection like this, no matter how many films you watch in your lifetime. There are movies I have watched where I enjoyed them but had little to say about them; "Revolutionary Road" differs in that after watching it, I can't say ENOUGH.
Nearly everyone involved in this project was highly passionate about the material - most of them had read Yates's 1962 novel and commented on how well it was written, that it was among their favorite novels of all time. Justin Haythe is among those people and his screenplay is outstanding - I found myself wanting to write down several lines I heard, so many of them quotable that I couldn't possibly put them all in this review (truthfully, I would love to have a copy of the entire screenplay). Haythe borrowed heavily from the novel's own language as well as producing some wonderful material of his own, and I'm a little surprised that it didn't even get an Oscar nod ("Slumdog Millionaire" won the Best Adapted category. Again, WHY?). The exchanges between April and Frank teeter back and forth from sympathetic and understanding to downright spiteful - some of their remarks towards one another are so cutting at times that the viewer feels stung by them just standing on the outside listening in.
In fact, I'm surprised that it didn't get more than three nominations total in 2008, among them Art Direction (courtesy of Kristi Zea and Debra Schutt, who brought the 1950's alive like never before - it's all in the little details) and Costume Design (I loved the majority of Winslet's wardrobe - simplistic and chic). Perhaps the most surprising was an out-of-the-blue nomination for little-known actor Michael Shannon for his scene-stealing supporting turn as John Givings, a man who from the beginning speaks cold hard truths everyone knows but no one wants to hear.
Master cinematographer Roger Deakins is onboard this project and his ingenuity knows no bounds. Sam Mendes, a director who loves to play with light and shadow, has a cooperation with Deakins that produces iconic imagery with stark contrast both visual and metaphorical. For the actors, there is no soft lens - every wrinkle, crag, scar and physical imperfection is there for the world to see, making their characters more relative and real to their audience. For the sets, sunlight brightens a cheery and conservatively decorated living room, clashing with the cluttered darkness of the Wheeler's marriage, giving the impression that all is not how it appears. Shooting within the house, though significantly larger than houses in the 50's typically were, was still a challenge - Deakins squeezed himself into the confined rooms, neck and neck with the actors, creating a physical and psychological claustrophobia that radiates into the story and the performances.
DiCaprio and Winslet tear the house down as Frank and April Wheeler, their on-screen dynamic trumping that of their first collaboration in 1997's "Titanic" (of course, this film is of a completely different ilk and highly unromantic). Of their fight scenes, DiCaprio was quoted as saying, "So much of what happens between Frank and April in this film is what's left unsaid. I actually found it a real joy to do those fight scenes because finally, these people were letting each other have it." Because he and Winslet are such great friends in real life, their portrayal of a husband and wife is highly believable and Winslet even had to take a moment to compose herself during one of their tougher scenes because DiCaprio had never been that angry and physically violent towards her before. Though she won an Academy Award for her role in "The Reader" the same year, THIS is the better performance of the two by leaps and bounds.
While the actors are incredible, it is their characters that one becomes so frustrated with. Though April and Frank struggle with the restrictions of their simplistic lifestyle, it is a prison of their own making and it gets hard for one to sympathize with them after a time, particularly because of their inability to communicate in a meaningful way and to come to a compromise of which both of them can be happy. Frank is not a risk-taker and won't squeeze out of his societal niche for the sake of leisure, while April is too impractical in her desire to change things; one will come to wonder about her state of mind not only because of her manipulation but her extreme swings between highs and lows (bipolar) throughout the film. Knowing how difficult they were finding it to see eye to eye after a time and that their feelings for each other had diminished to a certain degree, I don't know why they felt the need to stay together. Divorce was certainly an option for them instead of what April chooses to do later on.
Bottom line: A dark and emotional journey through a dysfunctional marriage and how the choices we make in life can inspire or delude us, "Revolutionary Road" captures that truth of which so many of us choose to avert our eyes. It is a film that will make a deep impact with those who thought - or knew better than - to trust our ideals.