Saturday, June 6, 2009

Revolutionary Road

I loved Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road, about the sad, hopeless demise of a narcissistic couple trapped in suburbia. I read it decades ago and remember being very affected by it.

The movie, however, is a wash. The self-absorption and selfishness of the characters, which seemed tragic in the novel, come across as whiny and just plain unpleasant. I didn't feel for them.

I thought the performances were terrible as well. Leonardo DiCaprio overacted through the whole thing, furrowing his brows intensely, ridiculously. Kate Winslet affected a tremulous, winsome crankiness. Both grated on me. Winslet is very, very good at portraying unlikeable unhappy women: Little Children, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I continue to like her as an actress. This was just the wrong vehicle for both of them, and the direction was heavy-handed and coarse.

Weirdly, I was thoroughly gripped by the movie, in spite of its (to me) glaring flaws. I was fascinated and yet repelled, by the spectacle of them tearing away at each other. A slightly less melodramatic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. It's unique to see such a close inspection of a relationship, and unique to see a movie so grim, with so little consolation in the end. So, for those reasons, I suppose I appreciated this movie.

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