Archive for February 8th, 2009

February 8, 2009

>Revolutionary Road


“Look at us. We’re just like everyone else. We’ve bought into the same, ridiculous delusion.”
About a year ago I discussed contemporary cinema with a blogger who no longer blogs and who described today’s movies as “boring to death”. Although critical, but still hopeful, I couldn’t disagree more with her observation, naming filmmakers and movies that were definitely worth the visit in the dark room. The list was very limited, which later made me think: she’s gotten a point. I’m not going further in this complex matter, but were the movies that turned worse or perhaps was it me who became more demanding? I have no answer, but the fact is, along the entire year I go through movie festivals, summer blockbusters and a bunch of different films, which rarely make me feel the urge to hold my breath and later sigh in relief: Wow. Until this moment.

“Plenty of people are onto the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness.”

Revolutionary Road is a triumph of form and content, an universal and timeless cinematic tale of human angst, hopes and expectations, an astonishing experience! And I could go on forever with countless adjectives because (excuse me) I can’t be objective while being so passionate about it… But, let me try it. A triumph of form and content because no camera move, no unexpected editing cut and no musical sound acts without a purpose. Every little technical bit is there to serve the narrative’s purpose, in fact, every little detail in the film speaks to the audience somehow, nothing is there for granted, everything has a defined role. And the best of all, these signs are transparent. I’m so tired of films that try so hard to be intellectual by making them hard to be understood, or by being pretentious while playing with “sophisticated” editing, and worse, those filmmakers who add a shaking effect or endless close-ups while filming, but narratively speaking, they’re communicating pretty much nothing!
“No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying.”
Sam Mendes is simple and minimalistic, but what he achieves, is nevertheless majestic. It’s timeless because the story could be told in 2009, over 30 years after the first birth control pill hit the pharmacies or in the nostalgic 1950s, when families with five or more children were perfectly normal. The decade issue and all the cliches commonly associated with it are nothing but a macguffin in the center of the story. Films with a similar theme have been done before, but the question is not how original a film is, since you can be original and lack substance, it’s about adding new layers and giving a different approach to a subject visited in the past. It’s universal, because the story could take place in the quietness of a north american suburb, in a neo-yuppie metropolitan city surrounding, in your hometown: you pick it. All these elements, however, wouldn’t be complete without consistent and genuine acting, and fortunately in this case, every single performance, from the leading couple to those with the smallest parts, helps to instil a sense of reality.

Revolutionary Road (USA, UK, 2008). Directed by Sam Mendes. Written by Justin Haythe. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Richard Easton, David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn.