REVOLUTIONARY ROAD directed by Sam Mendes (USA, 2008)
On ‘Lose Yourself’ Eminem rapped that we have just one shot – one opportunity. Fundamentally , this is also the premise upon which Richard Yate’s book and Sam Mendes’ movie is based.
It strikes me as simplistic –and a little depressing – to argue that we have just a single make or break chance to find a fulfilling direction in our lives. We have to seize chances when they arise but I prefer to think that these are not necessary one-off, make or break occasions.
In ‘Revolutionary Road , April Wheeler (played by Kate Winslet), decides that a move to Paris ,Europe is her one shot escape route. She dreams of starting afresh – replacing desperate housewifery for a life less ordinary.
She temporarily manages to persuade her sceptical hubby (Leonardo Di Caprio) but a tempting promotion offer and an unplanned pregnancy destroys the pipedream and, ultimately, their marriage.
Winslet was apparently blown away by Yates’ novel when she read it while she was expecting her first child to director Sam Mendes.
Mendes says that even if he wasn’t married to her, she would have been first choice and it’s hard to argue against this. Winslet captures her character’s mood swings brilliantly .
This is more than can be said for Di Caprio. He has never convinced me that he is an actor with the physical stature or gravitas to portray such complex adult roles.
As Martin Scorsese’s blue-eyed boy some have likened Di Caprio to De Niro but to me he’s more like the new Tom Hanks. He plays parts efficiently but there’s never any sense that he is taking risks.
It’s still a good movie for all that, largely because the claustrophobic world of 1950s suburbia is so perfectly evoked. Sam Mendes is a major league director because he knows when to let images speak for themselves rather than diluting them with explanatory dialogue. The scenes of massed commuters and compartmentalised offices have a resonance akin to King Vidor’s silent classic ‘The Crowd’ while shots of April Wheeler doing household chores are enough to convey the barrenness of her life.