Review: Rev. Road
Plot: A young couple living in the suburbs during the 1950s struggle to escape the crippling monotony of their lives.
Review: REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is based on a landmark 1962 novel by Richard Yates. Back when it came out, Im sure it was seen as a scathing critique of the fifties Middle America value system. Sadly, I really think the film version has come along far too late to be terribly relevant to our generation. Maybe if it had been made forty years ago it would be considered as classic, but in the wake of a show like MAD MEN, which brilliantly depicts that era, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD seems like old hat. In fact, at times it seems downright Douglas Sirk-ian (Douglas Sirk was a famous filmmaker in the fifties who specialized in soapy domestic dramas like this).
Still, it must be said that REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is a well crafted film. Sam Mendes does a great job directing this, although I feel its one of his weaker films so far. It has a lot in common with AMERICAN BEAUTY, but its not up to that level. Given the fact that it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, youd expect a lot of good acting from the leads, and in that regard you wont go away unsatisfied.
Watching REVOLUTIONARY ROAD makes you happy that the ship sank at the end of TITANIC. I know, I know- bad joke. I simply couldnt resist. Ive really got to hand it to DiCaprio & Winslet- their characters in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD immediately make you forget that they ever convincingly played star crossed lovers ten years earlier. In this film, they are truly a match made in hell, with both of them playing almost completely unsympathetic characters.
I really hate people like the characters they play in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Ive known many pseudo intellectuals like these in my life, and to the credit of both actors, nobody forces us to care about these deeply unpleasant people, who are to busy collapsing under the weight of their own genius to ever give a second thought to the other people in their life, such as their children.
As good as Winslet and DiCaprio are though, the film is stolen by Michael Shannon, who has two quick scenes as Kathy Bates mentally unstable son (although I think hes the sanest one in the film), and damn near walks away with the movie every time hes on screen. Its really a star-making performance for Shannon, who usually plays one-note tough guys, or men of few words. Here hes a man of many words, and his dressing down of DiCaprio and Winslet towards the end of the film is reason enough to see this film, as he blows them both off-screen- which I imagine is not easy to do. Also worth mentioning is Dylan Baker, who's great in a tiny role as DiCaprio's boozing co-worker.
Overall, I liked REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, but I wouldnt say its an excellent film. Its a solid drama with lots of quality acting, but if you want to see a more entertaining depiction of that era, I suggest you check out MAD MEN, or a great underrated Gregory Peck movie from that era called THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT, which was also based on a famous novel.
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