Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 6
 
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


WHEN LOVE GROWS OLD AND WAXES COLD: Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio, left) and April Wheeler (Kate Winslet), met, fell in love, and settled down to raise a family and found that their lives did not live up to their youthful dreams and expectations.

Revolutionary Road: DiCaprio and Winslet Reunite in a “Couple in Crisis” Drama

Kam Williams

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a decade since Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet enthralled audiences as the star-crossed lovers in Titanic. They’re paired opposite each other once again in Revolutionary Road, this time as a dysfunctional couple caught in an unsatisfying marriage.

The two actors are fortunate to have a superb supporting cast which includes Michael Shannon, who has received an Oscar nomination for his performance as a profoundly disturbed neighbor, and Kathy Bates.

Directed by Winslet’s husband Sam Mendes, and based on Richard Yates’s 1961 novel of the same name, Revolutionary Road examines the mores of the fifties. Although the story’s somber tone may be too downbeat to appeal to a mass audience, nonetheless, this film has much to recommend it.

Compared to Titanic, this pedestrian production has no spectacular mob scenes aboard an ill-fated ocean liner to provide a riveting hook. Instead, it relies upon DiCaprio and Winslet, as protagonists Frank and April Wheeler, to convey the emotional range necessary to keep the drama compelling, which they do.

Following an opening scene in which the Wheelers fall in love while in the bloom of their youth, the film fast-forwards to 1955 where we find them with young children, and miserably unhappy in their married life. They each resent being stuck playing conventional roles in the Connecticut suburbs.

Housewife April regrets having settled for motherhood and performing in a community theater, when she’d prefer to be pursuing her dream of becoming a legitimate actress. Frank feels trapped in the same sort of unfulfilling sales job which swallowed up his father’s future, and resents his daily commute to New York City.

Will Frank agree to April’s 30th birthday suggestion that they revive their relationship by moving to Paris to find themselves? Or will Frank’s clandestine affair with a secretary offer enough of a respite from his never-ending nightmare of a marriage to keep the couple in the States? The plot thickens when April finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy.

“Can this marriage be saved?” is established early on as the central theme of Revolutionary Road, as the Wheelers’ descend into a life marked with acrimony, adultery, resentment, and regret.

Good (2½ stars). Rated R for profanity, nudity, and sexuality. Running time: 120 minutes. Studio: Paramount Vantage.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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