Suburban prisons

So I saw Revolutionary Road this weekend.  I was totally scared — fearing that it would be a modern Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but I made myself go.  I watched the movie and was engrossed.  The acting was really great and I was thinking how far Kate Winslet has come since Titanic.  Leonardo was very impressive — he displayed a great range of emotions, I thought, and convincingly so.  The sets and costumes were just beautiful and it seemed to be shot on film that is clearer and crisper and prettier than those used in other movies.  And yet.

I didn’t cry once.  Or anything close to it.  In fact, I let out an embarrassing and unintended guffaw during one of the couple’s particularly bad fights.  Although I thought I was deeply involved in the story, I realized after leaving the theater that I didn’t really care.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe because the movie was all too cynical and didn’t create enough nuance or something.  Maybe because I felt it was too dramatic and desperate.  Maybe because it’s ultimately just a tired old recycled story of suburban despair that we’ve seen too many times.  So, although I saw Kate Winslet’s pain and Leonardo’s inertia, I just didn’t really feel anything about it.

20 Responses to “Suburban prisons”


  1. 1 newman February 2, 2009 at 10:35 am

    will watch this soon myself, although i also am unsure as to how i will react to DiCap and Winslett pouting. cheers for the review,

    newman

  2. 2 Kristin February 2, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Am interested in seeing this because I love Leo and I love Kate, but mostly because I loved the book. This also makes me a bit scared to see the movie especially reading your review. I don’t want to feel detached from these characters that I was so very invested in when reading it. We’ll see. Probably won’t get around to it until it’s on DVD. Does look very beautiful though.

  3. 3 gracieandkate February 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    This is what my favorite movie critic had to say about it (compares it to the book, so you might find it interesting):

    http://www.thedailypage.com/movies/article.php?article=24969

  4. 4 Kristin February 2, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Just read the review. God I love that book so much. And the real estate agent’s son (right? or is it a neighbor’s son?) is the best character in the book, the most lifelike, so I’d like to see Michael Shannon’s performance.

  5. 5 Kristin February 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    …if nothing else. I meant to say that at the end of my sentence above.

    On a completely different movie note, can I just say that I watched The Way We Were yesterday (I’ve seen it maybe twice before) and I just can’t get enough of that movie and RR and BS in it? They are both just so fabulous and fabulous together and I’m so glad Sydney Pollack thought to pair them up because they are cinematic gold.

  6. 6 kateandgracie February 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    The thing about Michael Shannon is…it’s just OVER THE TOP. I mean, he’s in two scenes, really, and the first is fine. But then the second is just too much, in my opinion. And he really just seems to be there to hit us over the head with the fact that these people are unhappy. Hello? We see that! It just felt so unnecessarily expositional and maybe even condescending. What role does he play in the book? [In case I was opaque on this point — I haven’t read the book :)]

  7. 7 Kristin February 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Very subtle roll in the book, if I remember correctly. It’s been a few years. I just remember the scene when he comes to visit with his mother being so brilliant.

  8. 8 Sarayu February 3, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I just can’t get myself to go. The trailers are just so confusing. I don’t understand what it’s about. I mean, I guess, I do a little- as you said, they’re unhappy. It just hasn’t drawn me yet. I know I should go to see Kate’s brilliant work, and the dynamic duo back together again. Soon. One of these days. I might just rent it.

  9. 9 gracieandkate February 3, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Actually, the more I think about it…Well, the acting was good, but I don’t know that Kate was brilliant. I think Leo may have been a little better. I mean, she was mostly really good, but sometimes even she went a little over the top. Without giving too much away, there is a scene in which she is clearly desperately upset and it’s just TOO MUCH. I mean, she’s fidgety and her face shows her panic. But it’s just over-the-top. We get it, Kate, you’re really disappointed and upset.

    S, the movie is about how the suburbs are soul-sucking and how sometimes people think they are special and better than everyone else and then find out, hey, maybe they’re not. And how they cope with that realization that their life isn’t going to be anything more than fairly average and ordinary.

  10. 10 Kristin February 3, 2009 at 11:51 am

    And the book is about that too, I guess, but to me it was really more just about these two particular people – Frank and April – and their particularly f-ed up relationship. I’m sure he was damning the suburbs (and why not?) but to me it was more a character study and so fascinating. I decided I’m not going to see the movie. It’ll make me sad, I think.

  11. 11 gracieandkate February 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I think that’s sort of what that review was saying — that the book was condemning the suburbs (a more interesting & original idea in the 1960s than now) but also about these two specific people and how they had gotten themselves trapped, how they thought they were special and ended up really resenting each other and the life they had chosen (well, at least April). It’s just that the movie just wasn’t that interesting. I mean, I know I said I was engrossed, but I wasn’t moved. I just wasn’t. And I feel like, being someone that is very moved by long-distance commercials, not being moved in the face of a deeply dark tale like those one, well, that seems to say something wasn’t working.

  12. 12 Kristin February 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Well, I will tell you a movie that you will most definitely be moved by, I hope. I watched The Visitor last night and it is now in my brain and heart forever and ever. A realistic, lovely, sad gem of a movie, I highly, highly recommend it.

  13. 13 Kristin February 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Also, inverse to Rev Road, it’s about escaping from the suburbs to the city, sort of.

  14. 14 gracieandkate February 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Yeah, I’ve heard nothing but GREAT things about that flick, and I still haven’t seen it. It does not help that I got rid of my netflix and have a $10 fine at the video store.

    Also, it’s disgustingly COLD here. Walking two blocks today nearly killed me.

  15. 15 Sarayu February 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Ok, now I understand better. I’m still not sure I want to see it, but I probably will at some point. It just seems so cliche. I mean, aren’t suburbs always painted out to be a claustrophobic, type A, cookie cutter trap?

    I’ve also heard “The Visitor” is amazing. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will as soon as this “Restaurant Week” hell I’m in is over.

    That weather sounds awful. You should probably come out to California.

  16. 16 Kristin February 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Yeah, it’s not much better here. Now way near as cold though, I’m sure. But I think we should probably all just hop a plane and get ourselves out to SoCal.

  17. 17 gracieandkate February 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Agreed. We probably should. This is just ridic.

  18. 18 gracieandkate February 3, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Also, I think it’s kinda weird and sad about Daschle. I think he would have been confirmed. I wonder if it was something else…Hmm.

  19. 19 gwendolyngarden February 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Love that you used the word “guffaw” in your review. It’s a lovely, underutilized word.

  20. 20 Sarayu February 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Yeah! Everyone come out to California!


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