Revolutionary Road
review by Neo

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Year: 2008

Box Office: US$51,700,000

Director: Sam Mendes

Producer: Bobby Cohen, Sam Mendes, Scott Rudin, Sharan Kapoor

Writer: Novel by Richard Yates and Screenplay by Justin Haythe

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, Michael Shannon, Richard Easton, Zoe Kazan, Jay O. Sanders

Genre: Domestic/Drama

Tagline: A bravo effort that keep us dreaming…

Review by Neo: Itís been too long since the pairing of one of cinemaís most successful pairing ever in the film, Titanic. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have aged considerably since their last outing, but there are no doubts that both have learned and matured in their respective craft of acting. Not to mention, watching the two acts together, seems more like seeing a family in the neighbourhood arguing against each other, than actual acting. It is this dramatic pairing that made the film works and combining this with Academy Award winning director of American Beauty (Sam Mendes), and the illuminating script based on a book by Richard Yates which all contributed to the success of this film. True, that despite Winslet being the younger of the two, looks much older than the baby faced DiCaprio, but both puts in an incredible display of domestic, yet flawed characters, who are struggling to find their inner soul and ultimately their purpose of life. Living in the conservative age of 1950s, in an era of McCarthyís witch hunts and an age where people seems to live within the boundaries of their comfort zone, Revolutionary Road, portrays difficult and relevant yet ageless ideas through the eyes of two characters, Frank and April Wheeler.

The movie goes like this: Two young couples are seemingly happily married, with two children living in a 1950s American Dream of a two storey Victorian home. Leonardo plays the husband who is bored to death by his office job which is hardly inspiring and Kate plays a housewife who longs to become an actress. One day, the two decided to leave everything behind and head off to a revolutionary road in France in hope of finding what they really want in their lives, but like life, nothing ever goes as planned...

What made this movie so relevant, despite the fact that it is concerned with the conservatism of the 1950s, is that history repeats itself, whether you like it or not. Not unlike myself, sitting in an office, working on things that I do not have a fascination in, is hardly inspiring or noteworthy. It is true though that in todayís society, people need money to survive and out of the millions of people, not everyone can earn a living and do what they like and enjoy. Living a dream is possible, but it isnít easy. Thatís not to say that working in things you do not enjoy doing is easy, as it is not, but as the saying rings so true Ė to pursue a dream is difficult, but letting go is harder. Revolutionary Road works because, it relates to reality, it questions the status quo, it defies the convention and empathises on just how difficult it is just to live and survive.

In what I would say as a more Oscar worthy performance than her display in The Reader; Kate Winslet steals the show in an illuminating display of a conflicted character that is torn between her role as a traditional mother and her lifelong dream of something better, something more interesting and something closer to her dream. Winslet is a dreamer, who longs to be romantic, but when her relationship with Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) becomes more and more distant, there is a certain uncertainty and sadness within her eyes that made her character different and ultimately allows the audience to take her side, even if she alludes to the stage of cheating. There is no doubt that Winslet and DiCaprio both hits off each other in an impeccable manner and their timing, chemistry, eyes, contact are just seamlessly natural to endure.

Likewise, DiCaprio does not put a foot wrong and itís been a while where it is so difficult to find any fault in one's acting. Not unlike Winslet, Leo is a tormented soul, but rather than like Winslet, he is more willing to except his surrounding and the responsibility of taking care of his family as the head of household. Leo has come a long way since Titanic and there is no question that he has gone one better in each film and every year thereafter. He was catchy and standout in Catch Me If You Can, defiance in Aviator, conflicted and smart in The Departed, it is pretty certain by now, that DiCaprio will be able to play any role thrown or given to him. He is the kind of actor that creates a sense where he is impossible to dislike, and certainly in the scene where he explodes at his wife at home. The scene in the forest could easily have been hampered by overacting if played by a lesser light. This is a competent display of acting and I am somewhat disappointed that DiCaprio is not recognised with a nomination for this fine display. Almost forgot to add, there is something mysterious about the character that Michael Shannon is playing that made him interesting to follow and memorable as well and notwithstanding that fact it adds layers to the film.

Although it is not always true, but director Sam Mendes manages to counteract the ideal of an American Dream. It is rather ironic that we have to work hard in our lives, most likely in jobs that you would never have dream of becoming in order to reaps the rewards in the future of going on a holiday, relaxing on the horizon, showering yourselves with gifts or wants. At the same time, Mendes is a realist or perhaps writer Richard Yates is, as after all, we all need to eat, survive, before we can truly enjoy ourselves.

All in all, the Revolutionary Road is not a movie that will leave you satisfied and content about the where we are in our lives, but rather allow the audience to dream a little, live a little and feel a little. Life isnít all about work and therefore it is important for everyone to be able to find a balance, between the need to survive and also the wants that provides us with hope, an aim and perhaps a purpose to live on. Before we all become, corporate robots, working mechanically on a routine task on a day to day basis, take a moment to remember what you used to dream about, what you used to want and at its very core, what do you want in your life. Personally, I know what I want, and despite being struck at this corporate desk in breezy afternoon, I havenít stopped dreaming and nor should you either … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 8.5/10

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