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Directed by Sam Mendes
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
There was a quote in the book The Teachings of Don Juan that I will always remember and really used it to set up my own values of life:
"Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, the question.....Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use."
And that quote is what Revolutionary Road is all about. What do people value? And what do April and Frank Wheeler value? And do their values match? At any era in this world, especially when kids are involved, it's always a necessity for a couple's values to match. And when it doesn't, there is either a divorce, a major compromise from usually just one person, or something even worse.
From the opening shots of Revolutionary Road, you can sense that something even worse might happen if April and Frank don't see eye to eye.
But some people have the strength to play make believe their whole life. Especially in the 1950s, a decade after the United States ran into two straight decades of financial despair and a major war that resulted in their ruin if they lost. The world was good in the 50s. Almost everyone had jobs that paid well and it was a time for comfort and relaxation. But April Wheeler saw something different. She saw the loss of her soul.
The theme of Revolutionary Road is what the TRUTH is inside of us all. April is perhaps the most beautiful lady in the world when she is doing what her heart and soul says she needs to do. And she is the ugliest woman in suburbia when she's not her path of truth. It's a major change for a spirited woman who needs to follow her values or else. A bit of a black and white personality.
Director Sam Mendes goes back to the life of the suburban world. His opening film, the Oscar winner American Beauty, centers on the male point of view in its present time. Revolutionary Road centers on the female point of view in the 1950s. A time many woman either embraced the identity of the house wife or really had a hard time with it. April is having a hard time with it and she wants her husband to move the family to France so they can start over again.
Frank is a man who really doesn't know who he is. A bit of a lost guy. The first lines he utters in the film when he first meets April at a party are "If I knew what I wanted in this world, then I would bore you for 30 minutes telling you about it. But I really have no idea."
I grew up in suburbia and I have a good friend who is a lot like Frank. As I moved away to follow my true passions, he has stayed and has now accumulated a nice paying job, a devoted wife and now a couple of kids. In many ways, he is living the life. My friend, like Frank is also an intelligent man but is scared of not going against the system that's been set up for a person like him.
Frank and my friend are just those types of people. The types that can work inside of a corporation and do a good job because they are charming, smart and dependable. One less person for a company to worry about when you hire them. They do the job while they can also hide and not be noticed, while accumulating very nice paychecks week to week.
Frank has a conflict with the system. He fell in love with April because she was that magic person who set out to fight against the system. But he also realizes that it works for him so easily and what man wouldn't take all that money and security?
April fell in love with a different man than who Frank is now. And she doesn't know how to deal with it. She loves her kids, but she just isn't that type of person who can live a dishonest life. She always needs to follow her truth and isn't scared of it. Whereas Frank is really scared of the truth, eventhough he tries to pretend he isn't.
Revolutionary Road is an interesting film. A film that really doesn't fit with today's films. It's almost a tribute to the character study films of the 50s and 60s. The points made in the film are subtle and they don't hit you over the head with its theme and plot like today's films seem to do. This was a very refreshing film to see and I'm very curious how people will react to it.
Kate Winslet's performance in this film is incredible. And I don't think I've ever wrote the word 'incredible' before! It's just a great role as she really made me understand what many woman have gone through in this world then and even now. Her facial expressions are what the true definitions of what doubt and unsureness is. She has a smile on her face because she wants to be happy, but through those eyes you know she's not convinced. That's what you call great acting. In 5 seconds who know what this character is thinking without any sort of long monologue telling us.
As I said in her other tremendous performance of 2008 in The Reader, Kate Winslet is the finest actor (male or female) working in moving pictures today. She can do anything and I can't wait to work with her one day.