Thursday, February 05, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road is a very good movie but I often wished as I was watching it that it had been directed by someone other than Sam Mendes. The problem is not, as Manohla Dargis thinks, that Mendes is too distanced, but that he is too intent on driving home the point of the story, rather than just letting his brilliant actors do it for us.

But I digress. The movie hits home, especially among us 20 and 30 somethings and I think Jason Bellamy brings out the reason why:
Revolutionary Road is a conviction of the Wheelers. Their crime? Denial. Yes, Mendes’ film, from a screenplay by Justin Haythe, makes good on opportunities to mock suburban living, but this is mere decoration, like the tiny plants Kathy Bates’ matriarchic Helen gives to Winslet’s April to fill in the “messy patch” at the end of the driveway. Suburbia doesn’t make the Wheelers miserable. Instead suburbia is the mirror by which they recognize their long-denied unhappiness. Characters turning 30, April and Frank are for the first time realizing that they have emotional wrinkles. As much as anything, Revolutionary Road is about that transitional period of life when your identity stops being about what you are “going to be” and starts being about what you “are.” [Via The House Next Door]
TNR ran a review of the book which again makes an important point:
But if Mendes's new film is to do Revolutionary Road justice, it will transcend the easy anti-suburban categorization. While Yates's depiction of suburban life is nightmarish enough to exceed the worst fears of Jane Jacobs's devotees, Revolutionary Road is far more than a complacent takedown of the 'burbs. It is in fact less an anti-suburban novel than a novel about people who blame their unhappiness on the suburbs. [Link]
Also check out James Wood on Richard Yates.

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