The first reaction after watching 'Revolutionary Road' this afternoon was that of surprise at the fact that it did not manage to win more laurels at the recently concluded Golden Globes. Though I have not yet seen 'The Reader' or 'The Wrestler' , both considered to be very good films (but yet lacking in 'that little something' which mysteriously tilts the balance on the Oscars night, we might find out), I still think I will persist with my initial opinion of 'Revolutionary Road' being much more than just a decent also-ran. It struck me to be a film of considerable depth and honesty sans any frills which smudge the lens of reality so often for the viewers. According to me, the Best Actress Golden Globe performance(very truly so) was one of the many highlights of the film and not the solitary feature that distinguishes it from the others in the fray.
The story focuses on an American couple, Frank and April Wheeler, who struggle to define the domains of their individual and collective existence and discover the myths and mysteries of the much overrated phrase - "Happily Married". He is the dreamer who never got the chance to stop and ponder on the life he really wanted to lead and then marriage and children gradually sedated him into the illusion of a life of "settled bliss". His wife on the other hand tries her best to make him live his dreams only to understand that those dreams are long dead to the rigors of responsibilities. Situations emerge and tempers soar to find two loving individuals in a quagmire of guilt, adultery and despair. An unwanted pregnancy complicate matters further and the thread of love seem thinning into an unnecessary appendage. The introduction of helpful neighbors and a gracious real-estate agent ( Kathy Bates) who has a mentally disturbed maths scholar for a son add to the maturing intrigue of the story. Amongst the bedlam of conflict and compromise love still thrives in curious corners of 115, Revolutionary Road, the address of the Wheeler family. It is this feeling of compassion and unexpressed longing that runs through the narrative which is so throbbing with life and vitality. The scene when Frank comes running helplessly to the hospital to see his wife towards the end is nothing short of heart rending with a strain of violin hanging in the air.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the lead roles seem to have rediscovered their 'Titanic' chemistry albeit with much nuanced performances, keeping to the complex characterizations this film demanded. The characters do not charm the audience with their act but put up a mirror to the frailties of any married couple which are only aggravated by haste and intolerance. They do not come up as an incompatible couple and on the contrary depict one which suffers because of the same love that keeps them together. If only a little empathy could be mustered, the involved audience is bound to wonder. And that's the tragic irony of this film.
After 'The Road to Perdition' this is one fine road that Sam Mendes has stopped to make his film on. He seems back to his 'American Beauty' days of masterful storytelling, getting inside the skin of the characters , narrating a most credible story in the most incredible manner while introducing sweeps of touch and finesse - the true hallmarks of a director who lives his film.
To say the least, I will be mighty surprised, or rather vindicated, if 'Revolutionary Road' goes unrewarded at the Oscars this time.
Here's one for a rewarding watch.
A very living story which lives among us, about us and inside us. Everyday.
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