December 26, 2008
Movie of the Day for Monday, August 11, 2008
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On the Big Board
|Very, very good, but I'm a sucker for Sam Mendes.
|It starts off poorly but builds well. Michael Shannon is excellent. I was first put off by Winslet in blonde, but then she put it in that pony tail...
|There had to be a better project these two could have chosen for their Titanic reunion.
As far as Oscar bait goes, there are few projects as instantly recognizable as Revolutionary Road. An adaptation of the 1961 Richard Yates novel, this project screams awards recognition with every fiber of its fictional being. To start, the Yates novel was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English language novels since 1923. The production is helmed by Academy Award winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). And, oh yes, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Rumor has it that the duo worked together on a previous project. I can’t recall the name of it, but I do remember that it involved a sinking boat, sex in a touring car, and DiCaprio drowning - something I consider to be one of the happiest endings of all time. Whatever the name of that movie was, it earned like $1.8 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a b. Reuniting DiCaprio and Winslet in a film is a license to print money, making Revolutionary Road that rare title with lofty critical as well as commercial expectations.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Yates classics’ themes, the book tells the story of unhappy suburbanites who feel they are better than their neighbors and had expected more from their lives. The couple, Frank and April Wheeler, resolves to move to Paris, a place more fitting for such extraordinary people as themselves. The gist of the story involves their realization that despite their fervent beliefs to the contrary, they are not the unique snowflakes they had previously imagined.
Frank, an office drone, claims to be a natural for the Parisian lifestyle due to his proficiency in French, which turns out to be little more than a drunken boast. In addition to such inebriated behavior, Frank is also cliché enough to sleep with his secretary and he has a tendency to beat his wife. For her part, April’s desperation to consider herself above the crowd largely comes crashing down when the would-be actress offers a miserable performance in a local play. Faced with the epiphany that she was the worst part of a bad production, she withdraws to the pretend world wherein Paris will better suit her impeccable sensibilities.
Clearly, Revolutionary Road is a bittersweet examination of human nature. The idea that residents of Revolutionary Hills Estates might believe themselves superior for reasons known only to them is exactly the sort of self-delusion that was so popular in post-World War II American literature. With such a stellar series of pieces in place, it is poised to be one of the most important releases of the 2008 awards season. (David Mumpower/BOP)