Revolutionary Road, as everyone who has seen or heard anything about this movie clearly knows, is the story of a young couple desperately unhappy with their lives. Set in the mid-1950’s, April and Frank have settled with their perplexingly absent children into a suburban home with all that entails: a stay-at-home mom and a father who traipses off into the city to work with all the other drones.
But this isn’t a movie deploring the ’emptiness’ of suburban life. April and Frank are both unhappy for a lot of reasons, but very few of them have to do with the fact that they are living in suburbia. Frank hates his job and dreams of ‘finding his talent’ and ‘being great’, which is a hard dream for some so clearly mediocre. April doesn’t find housework very fulfilling, is hemmed in by the constant barrage of sexism, oh and her husband is pretty much an asshole the whole movie. They decide the only answer to all these problems is to move to Paris where April can work as a secretary and Frank can fulfill his promise. But it’s not about moving to Paris, per se: as April says, they just need to get away and start over. Unsurprisingly, neither of them is strong enough to bring change to their lives and their unhappiness continues.
I can’t say I understand why this movie is so popular. From the get-go, the acting of DiCaprio and Winslet bothered me; they sounded like two students in a high school play with a weird mixture of over- and under-acting. This might be because the dialogue was absolutely atrocious, too. The story occasionally seemed fairly ham-handed, as well: when Frank and April explain their plan to move to Paris, everyone has the same slack-jawed disbelief you’d find in Pleasantville. When it turned out that the only person to understand their plan was someone who was literally crazy – oh my gosh, are they trying to say that society finds these people insane?? – I almost rolled my eyes.
But the movie wasn’t really as bad as I’m making it out. It did have a lot going for it. The visuals and cinematography are great, for one. For another, the movie is able to capture the way 50’s culture forced conformity on people and how pervasive and destructive the sexism was (and is). And the story as a whole is a good one. Just as a whole, it wasn’t that great – although this was a contentious opinion among the people I saw it with.
I’m going to start attaching appropriately-themed music to my posts. Here’s Beirut’s “My Family’s Role In The World Revolution” [mediafire].