Clint visits Revolutionary Road

Clint Here,

Happy New Year!

First Review of 2009 – “Revolutionary Road”, which I checked out a while ago, but only now could be bothered commissioning the typing finger into summarizing.

Yep, ‘’Titanic’’ shipmates Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates take another trip together on a vessel bound to make just as much waves – but will it be a direct hit like the former? (according to BoxOfficeMojo, it should come close. The pic, opening in the top 15 markets across the states, was the highest profile limited opening with $189,911 over the weekend).

Though as far from James Cameron’s diluted epic as you could get, director Sam Mendes (‘’American Beauty’’) ‘’Revolutionary Road’’ is, like the reigning Oscar champ of 1998, a rousing period drama that retells of a couple whose relationship is headed towards tragedy. But in this case, Leo and Kate aren’t about to collide with a bitter, vast iceberg but a more feasible relationship killer – the realization that dreams will remain just that, and love can liquefy over time.

Based on the book by Richard Yates, this is a tale of love lost, dreams dashed and unproductive defrayal – and though it may be set in the 50s (think TVs “Mad Men”), its tale will ring just as true with anyone whose experienced or known someone in a troublingly bad marriage.

April and Frank Wheeler (Winslet and Di Caprio) are a young, thriving couple living with their two children in a Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. He’s got a well-paid but boring office job; she’s the housewife mourning her hoped-for acting career. Determined not to turn into the type of boring suburbanites that surround them, the Wheelers decide to move to France where they’ll be free to discover their artistic sensibilities and live the life they can’t live in America.

One thing leads to another and the trip doesn’t come off. Instead, April and Frank remain in the suburbs – inadvertently destroying their marriage, and themselves, in doing so.

Unlike ‘’Titanic’’, where the multi-million dollar effects (not to mention mock ship) were primarily the star, this is a performance piece for the actors first and foremost. And perform they do. DiCaprio is his usual dependable best as the once-determined now despondent Frank, whilst Winslet shines as the wide-eyed young bride whose world collapses around her – leaving her with nothing but feelings of detestation, dejection and desperation.

The supporting performances, particularly by Michael Shannon as the outspoken fresh-from-the-mental-hospital-son of annoying real-estate agent Kathy Bates, are equally as admirable.

Shannon (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”), in particular, gives a career-changing turn here – offering up a performance that’s both amusing and tragic. He may be the only one who speaks truths in the whole movie, and yet he’s instantly deemed crazy for his blunt and boisterous ways. Shannon really gives the role his all. He’s actually the only light relief in the movie – you’ll welcome his introduction.

Mendes’ film isn’t for everyone – it’s indisputably disheartening and rather tragic, features characters that aren’t easy to root for, and isn’t exactly the kind of light and fluffy holiday fare that most like to see this time of year. It’s also rather noticeably lethargic at times – and considering ‘’Titanic’’ ran for 3-hours plus and not once did anyone nitpick about that, that’s saying something. In addition, those that do head to it will no doubt be expecting something a little similar to Leo and Kate’s previous fare – at least in tone – which they won’t get. This is a film for those with strong stomachs and even stronger relationships; it’s a very unsentimental ride that promises no happy endings and no Celine Dion songs at the ass-end to see you smiling all the way home.

Well worth a look – just be sure you’re not expecting “Titanic 2 : The Ship Keeps Sinking”.