Revolutionary Road

Posted December 31, 2008 in Film

Like Columbus, British filmmaker Sam Mendes insists he discovered America. Which makes the rest akin to the original Native Americans, rolling our eyes at his Brave New Insights. His latest again reveals the shocker that the suburban man is screwed. It’s better, if less lyrical, than American Beauty, with credit due to stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and the original novel by ’50s author Richard Yates. Yates wrote a book about a married couple kept dissatisfied by their caviar dreams and Velveeta timidity. His Frank and April Wheeler snigger at their neighbors Shep and Milly (David Harbour and Kathryn Hahn) and cling tightly to the destiny they’re increasingly less sure awaits them. But the trick is that we’re meant to align—not empathize—with their egos; they are, in fact, insufferable twerps. Mendes simplifies things, casting April as a martyr and putting the full weight of the film’s quavering, boastful, fearful morality on DiCaprio. It’s a handsome, shiny, ice cube of a film that doesn’t break your heart when the Wheelers’ hopes melt away. With Kathy Bates as the doomed couple’s gossipy realtor, and one of my favorite actors, Michael Shannon, as her madhouse son—he’s encouraged to chew the scenery, and we love the distraction. (Amy Nicholson)



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