I cried myself to sleep last night again. Only this time it wasn’t from watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show series finale on repeat (she was single, but god dammit she was loved!). Last night I had the unique opportunity of viewing Revolutionary Road, the new Sam Mendes emotional powerhouse starring the first onscreen reunion for the stars of the highest grossing film of all time. Call it a sign of the times, but this Road was more emo than the Black Parade.
No spoiler alerts here, I know it’s only been limited released in the few cities that actually still care about the difference between a ‘film’ and a ‘movie.’ The core of the film was undoubtedly the heart-wrenching performances of Winslet and DiCaprio. Warning: if you have ever been in a divorce or been the unfortunate secondhand victim of one between your parents, you may have trouble with this film. While being overtly talkie, the film was depicted with a realism seldom found in work other than Sam Mendes. That being said, I struggled with the ultimately unoriginal premise of their entire situation; two attractive white people in a fight for their originality and spontaneity in a suburban landscape. Sound familiar? But whereas American Beauty focused on the patriarch of the house’s demise, Revolutionary Road takes a step back and centers on the demise of a relationship between two people; a focal point that provides less comic relief but more Fox News fair and balancedness.
From a technical standpoint, the film wants for nothing. The 1950s sets were unsettlingly nostalgic, reflecting a clash between beauty and simplicity that only a little white house on a hill (across the street from a forrest) could achieve. Thomas Newman’s score was subtly haunting and telling, yet similar to the film’s main logline, not entirely original. One track moved me moreso than others, however. Featured on the Revolutionary Road soundtrack, (now available for DRM-free purchase in iTunes) it’s called ‘The Bright Young Man.’ It’s an extraordinary example of Newman’s ability to capture the uncertain and tumultuous undertones of a picture perfect setting and time period.
Revolutionary Road is unquestionably well shot, directed, acted, and produced but the message is dark enough to make even a 1980s Richard Simmons question his goals in life. It belongs in a limited release category for many reasons but the biggest reason is without a doubt because of it’s inability to transcend it’s tortured musings to reach a point of at least bittersweet appreciation for life and it’s mostly insignificant problems. A good film always challenges the viewer and Revolutionary Road achieves this… but at what cost? Take the film with a grain of salt: know that whatever mood you enter the theater in before watching it, you will inevitably walk out of it significantly more downtrodden.