Dreams Go To Die On “Revolutionary Road”

R, 119 minutes, Dreamworks/Paramount Vantage

I have not read the 1961 Richard Yates novel by which Sam Mendes’ new film, Revolutionary Road, is based, but after last night’s viewing of the movie one thing is for certain; it must be the very next book on my list. It is almost always counted on for the book by which a film is based to be even better than its moving picture adaptation, no matter how good and/or faithful the film is. This is easy to understand, given that print has so much more space to let its subjects and themes breathe, whereas films are pressured into condensing a story down to a running time suitable enough for audience entertainment. If the novel does indeed follow the usually inevitable trend of being superior to its cinematic re-creator, then I might have found my favorite book of all-time. I’d like to think that over the course of this decade I have developed a sense for what separates the good films from the bad ones, the great films from the good ones, and the simply masterful ones from the great ones. This is a film that hit me in ways only a handful have, and it must be included among the best I have ever seen, a favorite prefered even above some of the films I adore to great lengths. Special territory has been reached with this one.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet became inseparable friends while filming Titanic, the movie that made them both instant stars; and in the eleven years since they have given us countless performances that show convincing reason to how they did indeed deserve such vast acclaim and swift promotion for their talent. Finally finding themselves back together on screen, the two bring the central-focused couple of Revolutionary Road, Frank and April Wheeler, to life with startling realism. Mendes and screenwriter Just Haythe waste no time throwing us into the lifestyle of these two people, as we meet them at their initial meeting point, gazing at each other amidst a sea of people at a cocktail party, never to be seen apart from that point forward. There is brief time spent at the yougner, child-free period in their life, as they talk avidly about their shared ambitions and expectations in life, vowing to never succomb to the standard trap that most Americans allow themselves to be “comfortable” in, no matter how secure it may be. They fall in love the way most of us do, through an attraction that eventually leads to an apparent inseparation; but there just seems to be something different about the Wheeler’s, which is a feeling shared by everyone who has ever been around them, and especially to themselves. Sure, they move into a nice suburban Connecticut home with clean furnishings and bright shutters, raising two kids and Frank working at a dime-a-dozen job, but this is a couple that can break free in favor of their dreams for a better life at any given moment, at their discretion, nothing to prevent it. This is what they thought was true.

Set in the 1950’s, when cigarettes, martinis, and disguided dysfunction were as common as breathing, Sam Mendes’ film hits every single devastating note with blatant, brutal truth, and gets every piece of emotion through the wringer with his actors. There has already been mixed talk about the film, some saying it is too serious, downtrodden, and bleak to deserve any kind of high acclaim or awards. In a year where there has been such a steady amount of terrific films but no one that stands up above all and makes a profoundly masterful statement, here is the one that finally does it…and I fear that it will become neglected (especially the performance by DiCaprio) other than the resounding praise for Winslet as April. There have been a lot of films that focus on the material fences put up by families that attempt to mask what lies beneath the surface, some about the misunderstanding of one love to another over the course of a long period of time, but Revolutionary Road is paved with countless things that prevent it from being compared to any film I can think of. It’s standing alone on its own tower. This is the film of the year, one of the most important films of the decade, and over time should be seriously considered as one of the most searing portraits of a timeless message to Americans ever created.

4 STARS

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kate Winslet
Kathy Bates
Michael Shannon
David Harbour
Kathryn Hahn
Zoe Gazan
Jay O. Sanders
Dylan Baker

Based On The Novel By
Richard Yates

Screenplay Adapted By
Justin Haythe

Produced & Directed By
Sam Mendes

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3 Responses to “Dreams Go To Die On “Revolutionary Road””

  1. Robert Says:

    This sounds better & better. The trailer didn’t really strike me, but after reading your review, it has become obvious that this is the next film I need to see.

  2. Ferguson Says:

    I only hope that you will be half as moved as I was once you see it. It’s impossible to describe just how fascinating and involving of an experience it puts you through.

    Let’s see it sometime.

  3. Joshua Diltz Says:

    A Good post, I will bookmark this post in my Reddit account. Have a great evening.

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