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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Hollywood Rewind | Revolutionary Road: A grim and gritty take on the institution of marriage

Relationships, even the most boring ones, are alive -- with future, potential, fear, desire, anger and unrealised dreams. It is these very emotions that the 2008 Sam Mendes directorial Revolutionary Road deep dives into. The result is a chaotic thing of beauty.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
May 9, 2021 8:11:06 am
hollywood rewindStarring Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio, Revolutionary Road released in 2008. (Photo: Paramount Vantage)

Marriages might be ‘made in heaven’ but it takes a lot of your blood, sweat and tears to make them work on earth. There are not a lot of good marriage stories that have made it to the screen over the years. Some are too melodramatic, others too lifeless. But relationships, even the most boring ones, are alive — with future, potential, fear, desire, anger and unrealised dreams.

It is these very emotions that the 2008 Sam Mendes directorial Revolutionary Road dives deep into. The result is a chaotic thing of beauty. The film marked the reunion of Hollywood stars Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet on screen after a decade. They were first seen together in the blockbuster romantic drama Titanic. That Leo and Kate share a crackling chemistry was evident in their first collaboration, but what would it be like to see them married and bring alive the messy realities of a couple on celluloid? Turns out, the result was just as brilliant, but perhaps, a tad more brutal than the climax of Titanic.

There is not much in the way of plot here. Revolutionary Road is based on the 1961 Richard Yates’ novel of the same name. Frank and April Wheeler are a young and handsome American couple who sees themselves differently from the crowd of people who surround them. They have dreams and ambitions. However, Frank settles into the American way of life, seeking approval from his boss and more promotions, while April quietly torments herself, burying her unrealised dreams of becoming an actress deep within her soul. But April, after giving birth to their two wonderful children, is tired of pretending she is fine. She begins to crack and reveals in a gust of anger and frustration what the marriage has done to her. Small fights take the shape of battles, and the once loving couple begin to pick at each other daily. Until one day, the dam breaks, courtesy a memorable cameo by the talented Michael Shannon.

Hollywood Rewind: I’m Not There | Donnie Brasco | Sicario | Edge of Tomorrow | Spy Kids | 1998’s Godzilla | The Others | Phone Booth | Wild | Scream | The Godfather Part II | One Fine Day | True Romance | Little Women | Face-off | Pulp Fiction | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | The Age of Innocence | Mean Girls | Die HardNever Been Kissed | Citizen Kane | Kill Bill Volume I | Terminator 2 Judgment Day | Titanic | Heat | Home Alone | Jerry Maguire | Brief Encounter | The Truman Show | The Deer Hunter | The Shining | Clueless | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Blue Velvet | Taxi Driver | The Lord of the Rings I | Zero Dark Thirty | The Godfather | Say Anything | Warm Bodies | Bright Star | Malcolm X | Stardust | Red Eye | Notting Hill | FargoThe Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | TangledMeet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles

In a sequence full of raw nerves and ache, Michael Shannon’s guest figure of John Givings Jr says dark, upsetting things about the Wheelers, poking through their façade of a ‘regular, happy marriage.’ For a character who was described in the film as ‘mentally disturbed,’ John Givings showed a surprising amount of insight during the dinner table scene when he taunts Frank for his hollowness and April for her duplicity. A striking performance by Shannon who barely had 10-15 minutes’ role in the movie. Not just Shannon’s, the lead stars’ performance were more than credible. Leo and Kate showed us the ugly beings we become, the hollow shells of people we used to be, when we do something that doesn’t come naturally to us, and when we don’t let go of people and bonds when we outgrow them.

You can watch Revolutionary Road on Amazon Prime Video.

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