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Thoughts on "Revolutionary Road" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, January 26, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. This film had potential to be a very engrossing - if somewhat depressing - view into a marriage unraveling in the suburbs, but while "Revolutionary Road" is not a mess, it only rarely rises above the mediocre.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. I feel like one viewing is easily enough for this movie.

1)"Revolutionary Road" focuses attention on a couple in the 1950s whose marriage comes apart after moving to the suburbs where they confront their own lost dreams and the harsh reality of their new circumstances.

Director Sam Mendes has mined this territory before in "American Beauty," and 'Road' examines pieces of the same familiar turf as that movie - minus the humor.

2) The main problem I had with 'Road' is that it thrusts viewers into the downward spiral of the union of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, so the two hour running time is largely spent watching them fight bitterly with each other.

It would have been far more effective dramatically to have focused more attention on their initial attraction and burgeoning relationship because it would have allowed viewers to invest themselves emotionally into the pairing, and consequently, actually felt something when the pairing turns challenging and ugly.

3) Leonardo DiCaprio anchors the film well, and turns in one of his better acting performances. He still looks younish, however, his features are starting to thicken, for lack of a better word, as he slips more easily into adult roles. This physical transformation serves him well in 'Road,' and he conveys a wide range of emotions very effectively, the most impressive of which occur during the quiet moments where his face showcases his conflicted feelings.

4) Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses working today. That being said, I didn't feel this was her strongest work. Her role was challenging, especially with the downcast dialogue she was given, but Winslet overacts in several places and is a bit broad in others. Sometimes, it seems that she is acting for a stage production versus a feature film.

She does display some very fine work when showing the restraint and quiet desperation of her life, yet there are too many sequences that aren't nearly as well-played.

5) Michael Shannon, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in 'Road,' plays the son of a family friend of Winslet and DiCaprio who has just been released from a mental hospital. He only has a few scenes, but he certainly leaves an impression as he uses them to tear into the hopes and dreams and motivations of DiCaprio and Winslet.

But for me, his role was a microcosm of what is wrong with 'Road' - bombastic when it needed subtlety, blatant when restraint was called for and bludgeoning when a little bit of quiet could have made the issues in play much more deeply affecting.



  1. Miss Ash Says:
  2. I really do want to see this film though it sounds rather depressing. I'm a fan of Kate as well.

  3. Heff Says:
  4. Quite frankly, I'm tired of these two being paired up. Too much hype. Once was enough for me.

  5. Linda Says:
  6. Everything you have said here is why I have not seen this film yet. I really like all the actors, just not looking forward to watching a couple fight for 2 hours. A friend of mine said she found it exhausting. Also agree on your observations on DiCaprio. I think he's getting better as he gets older.

  7. Miss Ash - That was my take going into it, and don't let my disappointment stop you as I know you don't see that many movies. Ha. At least not as many as I seem to.

    Heff - Ha. True, but that was like 10 years ago, so it's been awhile. I haven't seen 'Titantic' in years and years and years, but I know I liked it better than 'Road.'

    Linda - I know. You have to be in the right frame of mind for this kind of movie (at least I do before paying to see it). Exhausting is a good word to describe it, and I was ready to be put through the wringer, I just didn't feel the overrall product was good enough to do it.

  8. I won't watch this one again, although for different reasons than you list. I thought this movie was very powerful. Maybe it's because of the similarities in my own life, but I broke down and cried on the way home from the theater. Pathetic, I know.

  9. JLee Says:
  10. I've had enough of depressing movies lately! ha
    I do like both as actors, but think I'll skip it. Maybe a rental if I get in the mood for something like that.

  11. Boxer Says:
  12. thanks for saving me some $$. I'll save this for a rainy afternoon on cable. I watched "Charlie Barlett" this weekend - I would highly recommend renting it. BONUS! Robert Downey Jr. is in it.

  13. Native Minnow - This is the time of year for emotional, gut-wrenching fare (the Wrestler goe me), so no worries. I thought it hit on topics that cut pretty hard, but I also thought it was too relentless and too blatant about it for my tastes - Or at least for me to consider it a top-flight movies. That being said, I completely see how the material could get under your skin as there's a lot to chew on in the film.

    Jlee - Then definitely skip this one . . . Ha. I haven't seen a preview or know of a good comedy coming out, so you might have to simply rent a classic. The weather stinks right now anyway.

    Boxer - My brother recommended that too. I remember when it came out, and thought it looked interesting and Downey Jr. is always an actor who makes me more likely to watch whatever project he's in at the time. Thank you.

  14. Anonymous Says:
  15. Damn you are good at this review stuff B.

    I have always been a fan of Kate Winslet both on and off the screen. I think she is very down to earth and seemingly uneffected by Hollywood and all it's weirdness. It's disappointing that she didn't quite measure up this time. Isn't Sam Mendes her hubby?

    I don't think I'll see it at the moment especially if it's depressing. A good laugh is what I need.

  16. When I saw this trailer, all I could think was, "This is what would've happened to the relationship if the boat hadn't sunk."

  17. Romany Angel - If you need a good laugh, then definitely stay away. Ha. And Winslet wasn't bad per se in this one, I think she has just set such a high standard for herself that I didn't think it was her finest hour. Others might disagree . . .

    Kimber - Ha. That is a good thought, and it would be somwhat interesting to go back and watch 'Titanic' again after 'Road' as I haven't seen that one in a long, long time.


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