Saturday, January 24, 2009

At the movies

Last night I saw Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Going into it, I knew very little about the movie, except that it was about a married couple feeling trapped in their life in 1950s suburbia. Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses.

The movie wasn't what I was expecting. From the trailers, I thought that they would be on their journey and it would be motivational and upbeat. Not at all. It was really very sobering, but thought provoking.

Kate plays April Wheeler, the young mother of two children, a former aspiring actress and the instigator behind their plan to sell their home and move to Paris so that her husband, Frank, can discover his passion in life. Frank, who is a faceless employee in a huge corporation, is all for it until he's offered a promotion and lots more money. And at the same time, April learns that she is pregnant again.

April suffers from bored housewife syndrome, in part because she and Frank seem to have let themselves be led into their lifestyle, rather than having made it a conscious choice. At one point in the movie, it's revealed that her first pregnancy was unplanned, and it is what led them to his job, buying a house and setting up a life like every other family in 1950s suburban America. Neither of them settle into it very well. He has an affair. And, for her, the lifestyle robs her of her identity.

I have mixed emotions about April. I felt angry with her for not stepping up to the plate and taking on the role that she, whether purposely or not, created for herself. And her children. On the other hand, I can relate to what she's going through. No matter how fulfilling parenthood is, we all wonder what we would be if we didn't have that responsibility. Our lives would be completely different and even if we don't yearn for that life, it is something that you can't help but feel curious about and be reflective of at different times in your life. Especially when things aren't so rosey on the home front.

April insists that she loves her children, and I believe that she does. However, it is hard to know what kind of a mother she is, because the children are conveniently absent during many of the scenes at home. In one scene, it's mentioned that they are at a birthday party, but other than that we can only assume that they're outside playing, well out of earshot of the stormy, and lustful, exchanges between April and Jack.

Michael Shannon plays the psychotic adult son of the Wheelers' neighbors and has been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the category of Best Supporting Actor. It is well-deserved. He provides comic relief on several occasions. He says what everyone else is thinking, but won't say out loud, which has the audience roaring with laughter one moment and squirming in discomfort the next.

I won't reveal the end of the movie, but it raised a lot more questions for me about April's character and how much was she a product of her time? Life was different for women 50 years ago. It's clear that Jack ultimately makes the decisions in the household and it is in desperation that April takes things into her own hands.

I would definitely recommend this movie. At times, I was drawn away from the story line, watching the era that was captured so well, the years a few years before I was born. For me, that's the fun of the movies, being taken to a different time and a different place, and getting to live there, even if it's just for a couple of hours.


Jen said...

I too love that about the movies...the different time and era..I got that on Benjamin Button. I would like to see this movie...maybe I will try and go see it.....your review was great.

Sharon said...

I join you, Karen, in the fact that Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses. Your insights here were very helpful and on point.

I watched on Charlie Rose, as both Leonardo and Kate were interviewed about this movie. They did make the story and characters very compelling, and were informative about how actors work together. Also, Kate's real-life hubby directed this movie, so that was a large part of the conversation, and the acting results since this stretched each actor.

While I may watch it one day on DVD, the interview did, indeed, leave the impression that it was a darker movie than I like to attend. I only go to the theater once every year or two, and it has to have an epic or adventure appeal to the movie.

Blessings on what's left of the weekend ;)

Judy said...

Ooo. Loved this review.

Will have to see it, if just to catch glimpses of the kind of kitchen I want to have.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

I have been wanting to see this movie. Maybe I'll treat myself this Friday after work!


Mississippi Songbird said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.I enjoyed yours and will read again.. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead..

gail@more than a song said...

I like Kate Winslet too! I sorta thought this looked heavy maybe from the previews and not sure I want to see it now....might think about it when it comes out on dvd! Enjoyed reading your review of it.

Trailboss said...

I want to see the movie as well. I skipped down to the comments so I wouldn't read any yet. Will come back after I see it and read you. I love Kate too. I watched The Titanic twice this past weekend.

diana said...

thank you for the review. you're good at it where i'm lousy, never knowing how much or little to say.

i go to a lot of movies (love them!) but haven't seen this one yet. i want to, but there's a lot i want to see right now.

did you happen to read the book? i wonder if they did more to develop kate winslet's character. there's been a few times where i've gone back to read the book after seeing the movie because i wanted to know more about the character.

i saw slumdog millionaire this past weekend. i'd recommend this movie, too.