“Revolutionary Road”

5 04 2009


“Revolutionary Road” 2008

Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DeCaprio, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon

The thing about Revolutionary Road is, you can’t appreciate the enormity of its message unless you are aware of the story’s background. The novel upon which the film was based was published in 1962. When the film was released several decades later, it was produced in a social climate fully aware of the 1950s housewife as a symbol of sexism and repression.

In the early 60s, however, we were a culture teetering on the brink of an all-out sexual revolution in which women began to challenge their submissive function in a household. For a novel of its nature to have been published amidst a still-repressive society was nothing short of revolutionary. Perhaps it is an allusion that a knowing author made in the title of his book, which refers to the road on which the main characters, a young married couple named Frank and April, build their home.

April has grand dreams of a life full of experience and adventure. When she meets Frank, she is an aspiring stage actress with a great deal of ambition and a crippling lack of talent. They fall in love. The film does not dwell on the initial stages of their romance. They are not important, because even the most hopeful dreamers are not immune to falling in love. This film is a devastating tragedy about the price one pays for postponing a dream to accommodate romance.

There will be many who argue that the outcome is tragic for both Frank (Leonardo DeCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet). To be certain, it is very sad for Frank. But it is a tragedy of his own making. April is the ultimate victim, first for trying to mold herself into the only kind of woman that her society has deemed appropriate, and then for trusting her husband to support her desire to revolt. He does, for a time (while the exhilaration of their newfound passion holds out). But he is eventually seduced by the stifling prospect of comfort, at the expense of delicious uncertainty and great adventure.

Note Frank’s reaction to April’s Stepford Wife-like transformation near the end of the film. He is pleased with what he feels is the first satisfying conversation he has had with her in a long time. She is doting, subservient, and robotic. Should we pity him? Because he signed on for a life with a shell of a woman and came home one day to discover that a warm-blooded human had grown in her place?





2 responses

30 05 2009
Uncle Joe

Howdy Megan!!
They’re showing this film as the weekly feature at the comm. ctr. in Berkeley where new to D.V.D. flicks are offered. Its pretty good because they ask for a donation, is all. If I’m short on cash one week, will just stack the chairs afterward, as part of my offering.
However, after viewing your review, am not too sure about whether a “heavy drama”would suit my mood?! Would like to remember Leo & Kate from aboard the Titanic—forgive me. Do you recall when Leo D. showed-up incognito at a Caraselle(sp.??) Mall burger joint a few years ago? He was in town on a film shoot, I suppose?!
U. Joe

6 07 2009

Great review. In the end when they have breakfast together, after what happened the night before, is a great scene…very strong.

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