Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Revolutionary Road" (2008) - Movie Review

Every year there is a group of film in the top ten list for many critics but there is only one film which would be close to them, for each movie goer or at least me. A film not alone is greatly made but appeals personally to her or him. It reflects the ideas and questions the hypocrisy in the inability to embrace those actions. The chances never taken and as cliched it would sound, the road never travelled. “Revolutionary Road”, the work from one of my favourite directors, Sam Mendes does that and does so good and it devastates you. It is not deeply disturbing as a characteristic but it disturbs you without mercy and this would very well be the film I have been waiting all along 2008. I might still have some films down the list to watch and proclaim the title but this is it, a beautiful film about a disturbing trend of life we are consuming.

Adapted to screen from Richard Yates novel by Justin Haythe it is a tale about the perfect sub urban couple in the 50s who met by their curiosity and passion while they see their lives jailed in what was defined for them after marriage and kids. They are the Wheelers, Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet). Kate once found the mystery in Frank to be the adventure she wanted to take on. Frank plainly fell flat by the beauty of April and in a curiosity wanted to see how far April could take her studies in acting to the real world. Now with two kids, a big house and a stable job in a company sounding much like early IBM is Knox Business Machines forming the definition of their sub urban yuppie couple.

Frank is in the audience getting up knowing the debacle of a stage play April was part in. She is upset by the failure of the play and Frank particularly is not a good person in consoling but he tries and fails, obviously. They breakout in a fight where we get to know where they are and their disappointments. The night goes out and Frank catches his train with hundred other commuters next morning and gets out along with them. As a perfectly orchestrated olympic inaugural performance they go to their office in the New York City. When the morning starts out from his house to his work place is when Thomas Newman rings in his music. How well can one encapsulate the mood of the entire film in that piece of music which gets replayed in different fashion never getting boring to vibrate the feelings of ours to the screen. Mendes works so great with Newman that his films carry music as an integral part in making you remember and also the times it was used for the scene it was meant to, aptly and immaculately.

While Frank in his 30th birthday wants to feel needed by sleeping with a new secretary (Zoe Kazan) in his office, April thinks through the life she once saw. When he comes back with the guilt, she surprises him with a birthday party with their kids. While he curses himself for the act in front of the bath room mirror, she further surprises him with a plan. A plan to powder the shackles from the existence in their street named ironically named Revolutionary Road. See, Frank admired the living in Paris during his early youth and that has always captivated April. April thinking back decides to move and live in Paris. She will get a job. She says in Europe secretaries are paid enormously and Frank would really will have time and ability to figure what he wants do with his life. Frank who is in the cusp of digging deep into the system he hates initially refuses but begins to wonder his times seven years back. He was unpredictable and some where he has lost it. He says why not.

As their announcements travel through the office and lawns to Frank’s colleagues and April’s friends and neighbours, every body is shocked and see this as an irresponsible act but being nice says good luck. One such is their neighbours Shep Campbell (David Harbour) and Milly Campbell (Kathryn Hahn). That night after they hear their neighbour’s plans share a talk. That explains how much Milly at least idolizes the Wheelers. But Shep goes beyond that in infatuating on April.

Of course Milly idolizes the couple, why shall she not. Wheelers are the example of the sub urban family who are two good looking people and two cute little kids with a big house and the man of the house with a job that would not shiver their stability. That is the reason when their friend and the woman who was the agent for their house Helen Givings (Kathy Bates) says about her son John Givings (Michael Shannon), a Ph.D in Mathematics is coming out of Psychiatric facility feels privileged when April invites her and John. Because Helen thinks they are the special couple in the streets of structured normalcy. John sees the couple inside and out in a rather cinematic vocal way, yet stands flesh and blood. He of course is not happy with his mother but admires her favourite clients when Frank puts it as escaping from “hopeless emptiness”. And is it me or is Shannon’s John Givings appears to be Heath Ledger’s Joker when confronts the pair later in the film? It works though as he does it well and great.

As the plan sounds exciting and it is exciting, the couple have their best time since their early marriage days as they pack things and count the months. But the audience know that it is a road to disaster. You know why? Because we are the elements these people are running away from. We are the system of normal. And it is known how tough it is to crack the shell, but the truth is that we do not want them to crack it. In a way their success would be our failure and a mirror to our cowardice. That is how the neighbours see it. I for one who talks so much about system felt the same. It is in that time I felt it cannot be more obvious on the face of my hypocrisy in writing a review about the film. “Revolutionary Road” is a picture frame of how social being works up on his or her comfortable laziness and begins to wonder the numerous decades gone by him or her. What is more disturbing about the film which spears you in its story is how the story was made on the origins of computers sprouting out in the market to create those white collar jobs Frank is an early member of. It had grown beyond imagination where the cubicles were filled with much immediacy on the awe of the technology and how fast it got emptied by the bubble burst and now the current economic surge. And out of all this is that like Frank Connor many crib and constantly bile it out on the monotony of jobs while bask in the warmth of its monetary benefits for a luxurious life. The more funny part in this sadness is that people worry on this job being taken off from them. I while gave up on the least control I would have over that decision of course has now and then troubled on what would I do if I was in that position. It is scary but is also exciting. As much exciting how the idea of Paris sounded to the Wheelers.

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