Sunday, March 08, 2009

Revolutionary Road

A review of Sam Mendes' Oscar-nominated film.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio are back. Twelve years after Titanic propelled them into stardom, the pair are back together for a slightly more compelling role in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road.

Set in mid-1950s Connecticut, the story unravels bit by bit. Its focus on the suffocating nature of suburban life and its pace are both in tune with Mendes' old masterpiece American Beauty, also based on the captivating technique of bringing the characters to light step by step. Di Caprio and Winslet are Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple sleepwalking into marital and emotional collapse.

What happens when all your dreams end up in nothing? What becomes of you when your plans implode into the same old dreary routine? Is it ever possible not to have the stuffing knocked out of yourself by a daily existence made of work-and-family and other insignificant fragments? And does the setting count? Would living in a radically different place make it any better or is it just a matter of running away from the self?

Revolutionary Road poses all those questions ("I just wanted us to live again", sighs April) as it's centred around two people in search of a plan B as they witness their old dreams rapidly falling apart. It's a subtle story about the meaning of life when comformity and a natural inclination for playing safe lead to ther wrong choices. Not the type of stuff you'd want to watch if you're after a light evening out, but most certainly a brilliantly acted and mildly entrancing film.

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