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*** Official REVOLUTIONARY ROAD Review Thread


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#1 of 5 mattCR

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Posted January 01 2009 - 02:38 AM

Ok, I will admit, it's been a good while since I have read the book this film is based on. Let me get the obvious out of the way: Winslet and DiCaprio are very good in their roles, and the camera work in the film is great.

However, the movie itself is hard to take because it's one of those things that as a book works, but as a film tends to lay there. The problem is that in a book form you can tell a free-flowing story but it just doesn't translate to the screen.

About half way through, my wife & I were pretty sure that Winslet's character suffered from bipolar disorder; something neither of us really remembered from the book, but she had all the characeristics in the movie. Mood swings, disorientation, etc. It made Leo's character one you would normally sympathize with, but his dialog and movement leaves you going "blah".

I'm a big fan of Mendes, who is slowly building a very enviable career. This is one of those films that will get some high praise.. and some significant negatives, I think.

Opens in art houses (limited) tomorrow. And I will say this: see this in a theater if you're a fan; there are moments that are hard to imagine on the small screen because of how the camera movement works. When/if you see it, you'll understand. It's such subtle but graceful movement - that all of the scenes in the external forest remind me of Kubrick's 2001.

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#2 of 5 Robert Crawford

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Posted January 01 2009 - 10:44 PM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Revolutionary Road". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.


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#3 of 5 Jeff_Standley

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Posted January 08 2009 - 10:29 AM

I watched this movie the other night and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. I expected much more from Sam Mendes, especially when comparing his body of work so far to this movie.
I have not read the book and I imagine a lot of what I didn't like about this movie may of been covered in that, but unfortunately got left out of the movie.

The movie overall for me was just a ride with no emotions. It was like a roller coaster that just goes in a straight line, no curves, bumps, loops, nothing. Just a straight line. You get off of it and you're like, "huh.... ok".

Revolutionary Road never fully develops the characters in a way that made me care about them, their family or their aspirations in life, which is what the entire movie hinges on. Every time we got to a moment when the thought of them not going to Paris and them having to continue out their miserable boring lives, I just got nothing from it and felt no compassion for the characters when I should have. Where I think this fails for me in the movie is when the movie gives us flashbacks we are supposed to see them at an early age and learn why they are so miserable in the current existence. But that didn't happen, the flashbacks came and went and ultimately had no effect on the movie. The were way to short and only there to quickly say "oh yea, by the way these two have great ideas for where their lives are going and what they want to do" (end scene)
The flashbacks could have been used much more effectively to establish the kind of people they once were and what they really wanted in life. If this had been done and maybe a few more to really develop the character I may have felt more for them later in life.
This made me almost hate the characters in the end. These were awful, distrustful and hateful people who only thought of the past and what it once was, and I shouldn't have felt that way. I should have felt their pain, their dreams slipping away, and I just never did.
Mendes also missed out on the kids being in the movie too. I felt he really could have used the kids much more effectively to give the characters more depth. The kids are in the movie for about 60 total and the thought of them making horrible decisions never felt like it affected the rest of the family, only the two adults which was a bad move.
I also didn't care for the 50's setting, not that I don't like the 50's, I just didn't get why, it didn't seem necessary.
I understand the book was probably set in the 50's and the book just followed, but what ever that reason was it did not translate into the movie. I thought it could have been easily set in 200X and it would have still been relevant.
Not even the directing by Mendes was very good. It was shot so plain and no shots that stood out to me at all. The directing seemed too match the 50's vibe of straight, plain and just drab. If that is what he was going for then he achieved it, but it failed for me.

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#4 of 5 Patrick Sun

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Posted January 10 2009 - 12:49 PM

"Revolutionary Road" is basically a tale of existential angst and restlessness set in the mid-1950's suburbia as seen through the relationship between Frank and April Wheeler. April is initially shown to be the one with aspirations of being a great actress, but her talent betrays her ambitions, while Frank is simply floating through life from job to job, but such appearances of freedom appeals to April, and their chemistry results in marriage, 2 kids, and a house in the 'burbs (on Revolutionary Road, to be exact) where April finds the life unrewarding and stale as her acting ambitions have been squelched and she finds herself with a mundane life as a homemaker for their 2 children as Frank works in the city in a job that he also finds no joy or greater purpose through such employment.

Being a fan of AMC's "Mad Men", there are quite a lot of similarities explored on that show and this film, though "Mad Men" is buoyed by mild soap opera-ish storytelling in spots, but predominantly smart enough to find relevance for today by looking at yesteryear's dramatic events. "Revolutionary Road" uses the unease, the unrest felt by both Frank and April in their current lives to explore the question of "is this all there is" in living the great American life as they enter their 30's in age, it's a life filled with monotone and routine. April truly wants to live a much more exciting life, and Frank is initially onboard with such yearnings as well, and April's plan becomes their family roadmap until events make the plan infeasible, and Frank's worklife takes unexpected fortuitous turns, making him less amenable to April's plan, but he goes through the motions, almost dreading telling April of his reluctance because he is also stuck inside a box of sorts, and is all the more conflicted, bringing hurtful confrontations in scant months after their decision to give April's plan a go of it.

As the story plays out, rooting the film in the mid-1950s is what gives the poignancy and believability of the choices that characters make as it comes to its conclusion, as that time period imposed quite a few societal shackles on people in general that simply aren't as compelling had the story taken place just 10 years later, as the 1950's provided both a feeling of a promising future, while keeping the role of wives subordinate to their husband's station in life, with few avenues for advancement and control of their own destiny.

That being said, both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio deliver fine performances, and Michael Shannon (as John, the lunatic son of the lady who found the Wheeler's their house on Revolutionary Road, and ray of truth in few scenes that brings a mirror of their lives on the Wheelers) almost steals the show at times. Sam Mendes delivers more hits than misses in this directorial effort, but I'm not sure he should direct his wife in future films, just because I felt that Winslet's performance might have been even better in the hands of another talented director, but she still gives a nuanced and incisive performance in support of the screenplay. DiCaprio might have outshined Winslet, but that's a function of the screenplay and the nature of the story being told.

I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
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#5 of 5 Jose Martinez

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Posted January 26 2009 - 02:32 PM

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have no chemistry. That's a complement!! They give superb performances as a couple whose marriage is on a destructive path. I especially like DiCaprio's performance. His facial expressions show all the emotions of a heartbroken man. It is, IMHO, his best acting to date. Probably the most under-appreciated performance of the year. Kate Winslet's acting range is flawless. It's hard to pick a better performance between this and "The Reader." The film may have it's flaws but I consider it faithful in its depiction of a dysfunctional family in America, no matter what era we live in.
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