Revolutionary Road Exposes Marital Angst and Hopelessness
Written By: Mark Smith
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While leaving Revolutionary Road I overheard a man say to his wife, you see why I don't like coming to here. While this was a powerful movie with many modern day implications, it was painful to watch. In the film version of Richard Yates classic novel, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet brilliantly expose the audience to the sad 1955 marriage of Frank and April Wheeler, surely one of the darkest marriages in the history of film. The couple lacked both intimate connection and existential meaning. Frank's IBM like empty suit career was as meaningless and torturous as April's spirit snuffing obligations as housewife and mother. They hadn't developed the sense of self, the clarity of purpose and the deep connection to meaning in their individual lives to sustain them in a hard reality of marriage, family and career.
Michael Shannon, who is up for an Oscar he would have won were it not for Heath Ledger, stole the show as John Givings, son of the Wheeler's realtor friend Helen, (Kathy Bates). John has been institutionalized due to problems rooted in his relationship with his subtlety wicked and manipulative mother. As a marital therapist, my job is basically to figure out the stone cold truth about each partner and then present that information in a way that both of them can swallow. Due to good manners I don't slice and dice my clients with the brutal edginess and rigor that John used in his bombastically accurate truth telling with Frank and April. In the 50's if you told the ugly truth about your crazy family you were liable to end up on the receiving end of a whole lot of shock therapy. Imagine a dinner guest who undressed all of your dirty marital secrets and exposes who you are at your core in a matter of minutes. John's raw insights and lack of tact are both entertaining and hilarious.
There weren't any movie goers under 30 in the room. To be touched and entertained by this material you need some mileage. I encourage you to take your spouse to this movie and then spend an hour at Starbucks processing everything that it brings up for each of you. That will be a lot cheaper than a therapy session and probably more productive. This movie will make you think and it will make you feel.
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