These photos turned up on Kate Winslet Fans Photos of Leo and Kate. They seem to go well with the tone of the film. At the same time I dug up this review/appreciation of Revolutionary Road by the great writer Richard Ford, writing for the New York Times in 2000, and eerily calling it “American Beauty” (Circa 1955).¬† One of Yates’ main laments as told by Ford:
Yates – who was both famously decorous and famously plain-spoken – once remarked to an interviewer that he felt he had written too little in his life, and that his was the misfortune to have written his best book first. And although over his 30 years of public life as a writer Yates’s reputation rose, then fell, then rose again, ultimately distinguishing him as that ambiguous thing, a “writer’s writer,” one who does not make it (as did his contemporaries Cheever, Updike, Walker Percy) into the permanent, big-money main arena of American literary fashion, it is also true that nothing he wrote came near the achievement and acclaim of “Revolutionary Road,” which “lost” the 1961 National Book Award to Walker Percy’s novel “The Moviegoer.”
Two more photos and more Ford after the jump.
Ford continues talking about the book (he’s really better at it than anyone I’ve ever read):
In 1961, “Revolutionary Road” must have seemed an especially corrosive indictment of the postwar suburban “solution,” and of the hopeful souls who followed its call out of the city in search of some acceptable balance between rough rural essentials and urban opportunity and buzz. Frank Wheeler, the novel’s principal character, is 29, already a combat veteran and a Columbia graduate and outwardly a man on the way up. Yet Yates depicts him sarcastically as a compromised, self-important “suit” with “the kind of unemphatic good looks that an advertising photographer might use to portray the discerning consumer of well-made but inexpensive merchandise.” In the novel’s close notice Frank is a deluded, dissipated bore who imagines himself “as an intense, nicotinestained Jean-Paul-Sartre sort of man,” but is merely an adulterer spicing his talk with literary references while following work so stultifying and meaningless that he even laughs at himself.
April Wheeler is also a youthful 29, though unappreciated by her husband, who sees her as a “graceless, suffering creature whose existence he tried every day of his life to deny.” Yates imagines April slightly more charitably – as a slightly dazed, slightly spoiled, actress wannabe possessing no particular good will for her spouse, who still struggles to set a go-nowhere life onto new rails that will lead her family (or more particularly lead her) to Paris and a main chance at freedom. Yet April finally succumbs to a lack of vigor and becomes complicitous in being lied to, then tricked and demoralized, then driven crazy, and finally done in by circumstances she simply lacks the moral vigor to control.
He ends it (and it’s well worth a read) this way:
If we finally see the Wheelers and their set as strange and remote “50’s types” with their smoky Paris reveries, their gooney business pontifications, no-fuss sexual dalliances, their memories of youth and a just war fast receding, we should still, I would plead, let this novel have its way with us. Types always come to us from some fast truth somewhere. And by envisioning the change from one small, not-so-long-ago era to another – to our very own era, in fact – “Revolutionary Road” looks straight at us with a knowing and admonitory eye, and invites us to pay attention, have a care, take heed, live life as if it mattered what we do, inasmuch as to do less risks it all.