Mark my words, this Sam Mendes film will be one that is “discovered” by critics many years too late.¬†¬† SFGate’s Mick LaSalle called it the Best Film of 2008 and lists his reasons why. Here are a few of them. Thanks to Davey for the tip.
5. Sex and despair: I love the use of extra-marital sex in “Revolutionary Road.” As is so often the case in life, it’s the only creative outlet left to people who have given up hope. It’s an expression of deep despair.
6. Leo: This is a wonderful role for DiCaprio, in that it capitalizes on all that’s strong and weak about him: his winning smile, his glibness, his engaging personality and also his slightly superficial, lightweight aura. Winslet’s spirit seems many years older, which makes Frank seem no match for April’s expectations.
7. Kate: Winslet is astonishing in this film, giving the best performance by an English-speaking actress in 2008. It’s all there: April’s enormous dreams and crushing frustration. I love the subdued yet ever-alert way she looks at DiCaprio for signs that he might be the man she thought she was marrying. And I love the way he mostly wilts and sometimes preens under the scrutiny. This is the portrait of a brilliant woman shut in a trap.
He also points out something no one else has mentioned yet:
At the same time – and this is important – the film is very specific about the marital pressures peculiar to the film’s era, the mid-1950s. For the man, it means a life sentence of unrewarding work. For the woman, it’s a cell door closing. For both, it’s a farewell to dreams.
Incidentally, the specificity with which director Sam Mendes conveys this era makes it baffling and irritating to hear people compare this film to AMC’s “Mad Men.” “Revolutionary Road” is about the 1950s, not the early ’60s, a big difference. Richard Yates, who wrote the novel “Revolutionary Road” in 1961, understood the difference; that’s why he set the book in 1955. It’s the difference between Eisenhower and Kennedy, between Tennessee Ernie Ford and Chubby Checker, and anybody who confuses the two isn’t giving this film the attention it demands and deserves.