Thursday, July 2, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Kate Winslet was refreshing in The Reader. Her performance in The Reader made the novel film exceptional. Kate is a solid actress. Leonardo DiCaprio is slowly growing on me. The most recent film I have seen with DiCaprio in it was The Blood Diamond, which he brought great life to. The two have decent chemistry as evidenced by Titanic. However, this film was a poor choice for them to reunite in.

Revolutionary Road takes place in Connecticut in the years following World War II. A young man and woman fall in love after the war. A picture of the soldier standing in front of the Eiffel Tower inspires the half-baked idea to sell their house and move to Paris with their two children. The idea and the marriage fall apart with the announcement of an unexpected, unplanned pregnancy. The pregnancy affects both of the main characters in different ways creating a division that seems impossible to breach. Irrational decisions lead to loss.

The worst thing about Revolutionary Road was the pacing. Independent films are after slow and require patience for the rewarding storyline. Revolutionary Road tested that patience for a full two hours, while never really delivering anything of substance. Yes, it was a depressing film with controversial subject matter and a few great comic diversions, but for the most part, the script was tired and boring. Revolutionary Road managed to lose my attention several times when it got bogged down with the sluggish pacing.

In contrast to the terrible pace of this film, Revolutionary Road had phenomenal acting all the way around. DiCaprio is slowly starting to win me over...I used to strongly dislike him as an actor. I can sum up his skill with a closing scene, where DiCaprio displays emotion the emits both loss and lack of direction. When his character is called by one of his children, he manages to maintain that displaced look while acknowledging the child with a distant smile that seemed genuinely forced through the fog of depression. That single scene demonstrated the gift that DiCaprio has for immersing himself in character. There were some excellent arguments between DiCaprio's character, Frank Wheeler and his wife April (Kate Winslet). These exchanges deomonstrated great skill from both players.

With headliners like Winslet and DiCaprio, it might be easy to overlook the supporting cast, but not in this film. If nothing else, Revolutionary Road, was exceptionally well cast. Kathy Bates is getting better with age. She delivered a quirky performance as the Wheeler's real estate agent (Helen Givings) that was outstanding. Her son, John Givings, visits from the insane asylum and injects the only true life into this film. John Givings (Michael Shannon) provided insight into some of the psychological issues in play, while creating exceptionally tense, interesting and comic situations that redeemed the writers just a bit. Shannon played an enjoyable nutcase in the film Bug, in a role that was not unlike the John Givings role in terms of intense insanity with an eerie quality of coherence. The supporting cast were a definite bright spot in this film.

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