revolutionary road

March 4, 2009

“so now i’m crazy because i don’t love you, right? is that the point?”

it’s not a film that i eagerly went in anticipating.  and not one that i thought i was going to come out of actually enjoying.  but sometimes i think you watch a film at the right moment in your life and it just makes sense, or speaks to you in a certain way it wouldn’t at a different time.  i can relate that closely to my experience with the mike nichols film closer.  a film that i think is very much in the same vein as this one.  people in relationships, doing horrible things and saying horrible things to their partners in those relationships.  i think i just watched that film at the right moment and found something enjoyable out of it.  i’m not sure if i went back and watched it again that i’d have the same reaction.  and i think the same thing goes for revolutionary road.

this idea of not settling for the suburbs, that kate and leo have, is something i think everyone can semi-relate to.  i’ve often had those dreams of grandeur, the urge to move to paris, not wanting to become complacent with the life i have.  but the big difference between my dreams and theirs is that mine are actually definable.  kate and leo (a.k.a april and frank wheeler) have dreams, but they’re not sure what they are.  they just no that something is amiss.  april is not happy with the idea of being a mother.  frank is unhappy that he doesn’t know his wife as well as he thought.  and soon they realize that they rushed into something before truly understanding the other.

i think mendes is commenting on the current state of marriage in the u.s with the film.  frank and april married a person they really didn’t know and that’s a problem that  plagues our society today.  people don’t quite understand the concept of marriage, and brush it off as something light and not to be taken seriously.  when in reality the commitment is more than they can handle.  i like the way mendes plays with the audience’s preconceptions of how marital squabble happens as well.  we learn that frank can be perfectly happy with his life, but it’s his wife that is the one who wasn’t ready for marriage and wants out.  it seems like films often want to throw men under the bus when it comes to marriage.  and to be fair, frank is not the best husband, but i like how mendes plays with that idea.

the film gets a little repetitive with their arguments, which may be how life really works but doesn’t make for a compelling film.  i was really just hoping every scene that michael shannon would show up again.  the man has quickly become one of my favorite actors working today, and had a fantastic 2008.  his turn in shotgun stories was one of my top 2 leading roles last year, and his academy award nomination for this film is justified.  he’s fantastic.  so unsettling.  i expect to see some huge things from him coming up, and can only hope that he remains dedicated to picking quality films to work on.  someone give this man some more leading roles!

i was surprised that i could like a sam mendes film (although i do have fond memories of road to perdition), and i was surprised that this film made it into my 15 or so favorite films of the year.