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Review: Revolutionary Road by DrChocolate

KateandLeo

Kyle Terry is DrChocolate and my good friend from college who I asked to help me out with my movie reviews. My budget limits the amount of movies I can see and the good Dr, while having similar taste in movies as me, often has differing viewpoints that I think will be valuable to the site. This is one of those cases and has inspired me to write my own review, which will hopefully be posted shortly.

In an effort of full disclosure I’ll start with this opinion: I think Sam Mendes is vastly overrated. As a matter of fact I think he borders on being a hack. He strikes me as drama’s version of Michael Bay; drama for dramas sake, drama for those who don’t know any better. He knows all the paint by numbers for a drama, and every now and then he show flashes of brilliance (Road to Perdition), but for the most part, it all seems counterfeit and overly calculated. With that intro, onto his latest film Revolutionary Road. This impeccably acted drama asks a lot of the viewer. For one, it has no routing interest – both Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio are nasty, brutish, ugly people. When first watching this movie I honestly looked down at the time counter thinking I had skipped a scene or three. But no, the movie literally drops you, quite heavily, into the bitter, raging disappointment of a dissolving marriage.  The film has that Mendes sterility and distance, like you’re watching everything unfold in a fishbowl where you’re never able to truly connect. I also am constantly irritated by Hollywood’s insistence on using the middle class and the suburbs as metaphors for wasted life and unfulfilled dreams. You do realize that the same people you’re asking to indulge your piousness with their hard earned middle class dollars are those that you are criticizing, right? (Yes, I know this film is based on a book from the 1960’s but my irritation still holds). See that steaming hot mess of overrated self-importance American Beauty for another example.

That’s not to say this movie isn’t without its positives. Winslet and DiCaprio have probably never been better. DiCaprio’s man-boy looks have never served him better than here as an emotionally stunted man-child fearful of his corporate future who struggles with the definition of what it means to be a “man.” The furor with which the two fight and steam and reconcile and fight again is monumental and engulfing. Their fights are cringe-inducing in their veiled, reprehensible brutality. That the actors are able to convey that nastiness with a level of care for each other is rather extraordinary. Michael Shannon as a mentally unbalanced neighbor is frightening and exhilarating as the only individual in the movie that sees the truth in their lives and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s a revelation. The art direction, the submersion into the time, is immaculate as well. However, it still carries the Mendes sheen, where you’re never able to care about two people when it’s vital to do so. That sheen and veneer eventually muddles the performances and the message of the film. I felt like I was watching actors acting the hell out of individual scenes rather than an actual story arc. It’s definitely an affecting piece of cinema but it stays there instead of becoming something significant and powerful, something it could have been. Overall it’s a typical Mendes film, flashes of brilliance, flashes of hack, and some fantastic performances. I marginally recommend it, but again, with reservations. If you like Mendes other films you’ll probably like this.

  • Facebook User

    Well said, Kyle. I'll be posting my thoughts on the movie soon.

  • Facebook User

    Well said, Kyle. I'll be posting my thoughts on the movie soon.

  • Facebook User

    Well said, Kyle. I'll be posting my thoughts on the movie soon.

  • Facebook User

    I think I'm the only one who didn't buy the acting. They didn't seem sincere to me in the slightest. I didn't think they were ever in love and I didn't buy that they hated each other either. It seemed like an acting class caught on film. They've both done better before.

  • Facebook User

    Well said, Kyle. I'll be posting my thoughts on the movie soon.

  • Facebook User

    I think I'm the only one who didn't buy the acting. They didn't seem sincere to me in the slightest. I didn't think they were ever in love and I didn't buy that they hated each other either. It seemed like an acting class caught on film. They've both done better before.