Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Revolutionary Road

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:

revolutionary-road-poster-full1

ALISON SAYS:

If you’ve ever been someone who’s a little scared of the concept of marriage and life becoming stagnant and losing all meaning, don’t go see Revolutionary Road. It will only reinforce this fear. But the film will also reinforce your love and respect for Kate Winslet, Sam Mendes and for the costume designer on the film (her character had such great dresses). Kate Winslet rocks. There’s not much more to it. She’s beautiful, an incredible actress and has always chosen interesting roles (and even has comic chops, as exhibited on “Extras”). I can’t imagine though what it was like to make this film with your husband (for those who don’t already know this, the director, Sam Mendes, is her husband).

It was fun to see Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reunited after all these years, and DiCaprio impressed me, at least in the second half of the film. During the first half, I never really forgot that I was watching Leo. He’s still too pretty to completely believe him as a grown-up, angry man. (Leo, go get a little rougher around the edges and those Oscars will roll in, I swear.) But during the later part of the film, I thought he had some great scenes that did show his depth as an actor and reminded me of some of my favorites of his past performances (Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Jim in The Basketball Diaries). There were scenes where he broke out of being Leo and we saw a desperate, broken man who doesn’t know how to save his wife or make her love him again.

While I was impressed by some of the performances and aspects of the film, and still think Sam Mendes deserves loads of acclaim, I can’t say I loved the film as a whole. It was interesting to be in this world, but I couldn’t help thinking “Mad Men” did it and does it better. On a sidenote: my mom also saw this film and was recollecting how during her childhood, some women on her street would dress up for their husbands when they were getting home from work.

LA Viewers: Go see a matinee.

Translation for non-LA natives: If you live in the suburbs and ever doubt some of your life choices, maybe pick something more upbeat.

JESSICA SAYS:

For once, a movie makes you glad you’re a singleton and not a smug married. The portrait of a marriage provided by Revolutionary Road is anything but appealing. Take this scene:

April Wheeler: So now I’m crazy because I don’t love you, right? Is that the point?

Frank Wheeler: No! Wrong! You’re not crazy, and you do love me. That’s the point, April.

April Wheeler: But I don’t. I hate you. You were just some boy who made me laugh at a party once, and now I loathe the sight of you. In fact, if you come any closer, if you touch me or anything, I think I’ll scream.

Doesn’t that warm, kind exchange make you want to run right out and get married? No? Let me tell you, that fight only gets worse from there.

It is uncomfortable to watch two people completely emotionally eviscerate each other the way Kate Winslet (April Wheeler) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Wheeler) do in this picture, but it’s completely riveting too. Kudos to Richard Yates and Justin Haythe (or ‘granola to you,’ as one of my friends might say) for a fantastic script. Yates’ 1967 novel this film is based on has been added to my must-read list. This is one of those films where you can just see that every member of the small village of people it takes to make a major motion picture brought their A-game. (I can’t believe I just used the phrase ‘A-game.’) Production design, props, costume, it is all spot on authentic.

REVOLUTIONARY ROADBoth Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet deliver Oscar-worthy performances here and the fact that neither of them was even nominated is ridiculous. It’s just further proof that politics and money have more to do with who wins Academy Awards than the performances too often. Michael Shannon is only in a few scenes, but he is so good I wished he got his own film about a mental patient in the 1950s. His performance is one of only three nominations for Revolutionary Road, with costume and art direction. If I ruled the world, it would get nominations for Best Picture, Best Lead Actress, Best Lead Actor, and Best Director. Alas, I do not; otherwise we would all take flying cars to work.

This movie left me thinking about a lot of things which, I think, is one of the best things you can say about any piece of art. For instance, as a woman, I am very thankful I was born at a time when the possibilities for my life were not determined by the fact that I’m female. Also, I marvel at how well Sam Mendes seems to understand the American suburbs for someone who grew up in Reading, England. In this film, he shows the same stiflingly powerful push to conform the suburbs seem to have as he depicted in American Beauty, only this time we get to watch a woman futilely struggle against it.

My advice? Go see this movie soon.

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