Road To Destruction
Sam Mendes who had earlier given us the marvelous 'American Beauty' and
the fantastic 'Road To Perdition' is now back with a harsh and
disturbing portrayal of the intimate (or lack of it) relationship
between a married couple. Though the film is set in the fifties, the
dilemmas, moral conflicts, despair, depression and hopelessness holds
relevant even for today's world.
Given the solid screenplay, Mendes does not waste time to contrast the
relationship pre and post marriage. That one scene in the beginning is
enough to demonstrate that these two people, who instantly hit it off,
had dreams and aspirations. Soon marriage happens, and then children
and thus their dreams are pushed further away until it becomes nothing
but a distant dream. Frank works a 10hour/day job that he hates and
April is the ultimate desperate housewife.
Mendes has an eye for visuals and 'Revolutionary Road' is no different.
Every frame is stunning to look at. The cinematography and score only
enhance the mood of the scenes.
Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet reunite after about 11 years, this
time with something much more challenging than silly candy-floss
romance. One can easily see how both have matured as actors. Although I
did find Dicaprio to overact in several scenes and at times he's a
little too weepy but his best scenes are with Winslet who delivers a
very natural performance by depicting the despair and sadness of the
ultimate desperate housewife. The supporting cast is commendable.
Michael Shannon steals the show while Kathryn Hahn and Kathy Bates are
'Revolutionary Road' is quite daring with its stark portrayal of a
marriage gone so sour that it has become poisonous. Mendes has been
known to deal with risky subject matters and here too he gives it the
right treatment. Had the script gone to a lesser director, then the
'Revolutionary Road' could have easily failed..
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Book 10/10 - Film 8/10
I went to see this at an advanced screener in Leicester Square last
night. Kate Winslett chatted about the film on stage afterward. I went
as one of those people who'd read the book and consider that source
material to be amongst the best literature I'd ever read. I was
wondering if and how the film could match up. My prior concerns were
about how accurate the film would be. Well, there's nothing to worry
about there. Mendes has created a near carbon copy of the book, the
locations, characters and scenes are all exactly as I 'saw' them on the
page. Nothing (as far as I could tell) is portrayed out of order, no
extra characters are introduced, and no primary characters are dropped
or altered. The acting is 100% perfect. The mies-en-scene is perfect.
Absolutely nothing could or should have been done differently. So why
not 10/10? The problem lies in the fact that Yates' novel is a literary
one, much of the essence of the experience of the story is realized by
Yates with just the right turn of phrase or choice of word. How does a
director set about depicting or capturing this visually? I don't think
he really can, he needs to use cinematic tricks and devices to inject
resonance, the same resonance Yates achieves with that turn of phrase.
But in being so (probably rightly) concerned about being true to the
source material, the film somehow comes up a little flat as a film
going experience, a sort of American Beauty without the crucial
stylistic bells and whistles. Kate Winslett said afterward that
(interestingly) it was she who had brought the book and the project to
her husband, not vice versa and that it took some consideration for Sam
Mendes to convince himself that he hadn't already told this story
before, and by the final credits, I too was thinking just that, it felt
like I'd watched a prequel to American Beauty, but without the pizazz
and the rapture and the delight. So, the book, 10/10, the film, 8/10..