Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Revolutionary Road (2008)
It's certainly been Kate Winslet's year: two dramatically different roles in two excellent but very distinct movies. I can understand why Our Kate eventually earned the BAFTA for her portrayal of the emotionally amputated Hanna Schmitz in The Reader: it's a greater challenge to bring a sterile void such as Schmitz to the screen and make her believable, than someone whose emotions are bristling right on the surface, like the sparks on a Van de Graaff generator.
Which is not, in any sense, to downplay the weight and solidity of Revolutionary Road. There have been many films exploring the private dreams and nightmares of those who live in silent desperation within the facade of the post-WW2 American Dream (The Ice Storm immediately springs to mind), but this entry accentuates the sense of loss by offering its protagonists -- frustrated mother-of-two April and her sexually oppotunistic husband Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio, also at the top of his game) -- a way out of the rut they've slipped into.
Whilst 1955 Connecticut society looks on in horror born out of ill-disguised envy, the pair plan their escape to a Europe which has taken on a mythic status for them, only to have any real hope of freedom crushed by their own weaknesses. There's a grim inevitability to the movie's final chapter (one which, for personal reasons, I found very difficult to view), but it was obvious from the opening scenes that a happy ending was unlikely to be on the agenda.
[First published on LiveJournal, February 2009]