Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I guess because of the fact that I found myself uninvolved in the viewing of Revolutionary Road, my thoughts instead were focused on inferences I was making outside the margins of the film, so I thought I'd share. The film is a return to suburbia by Sam Mendes who directed the once overrated, and now underrated American Beauty (1999). Like that movie, Road examines the inner workings of a marriage and the effects of conformity on the couple, here played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio - forever associated with their previous coupling in Titanic (1997). I'm not sure it exposes any kind of revelations on the complex relationship that forms a marriage. Now I've never read the Yates novel on which it is based, so forgive me if I read into it from the cinematic side more so than the literary. Road seems a little derivative, the obvious comparison being TV's Mad Men which I've heard bandied about elsewhere. But not having seen Mad Men, it actually reminds me of a much older cult classic I've been viewing for another project, Michael Mann's Crime Story (1986-88). That show was set in the early sixties, and like its descendant, Heat (1995), looked not only at the cops and robbers, but their relationships with their wives and families against the nascent idea of women's liberation. And there's the rub, because the luxury of time afforded even a TV series with a brief run allows one to pick apart both the good things and the bad about a marriage slowly. Even Heat did not have the time nor inclination to successfully flesh out the workings of a marriage in relationship to its principal story like Crime Story did. But this film takes so much time to cover the downside of the Wheelers' crumbling relationship that one wonders what Frank and April ever saw in each other. And brief flashbacks to their first dates are not convincing enough to lay the foundation. So could Mendes have been depending on moviewatchers' own history with these two actors to fill in the blanks? Does anybody else out there find it kind of funny that from a meta-perspective, this movie's Frank and April Wheeler are the hardened, grown-up, cynical versions of Winslet's social misfit Rose, and DiCaprio's freespirited Jack from their previous onscreen match-up?