You hear about a movie that everyone is raving about. It sounds intense. It sounds as if it were well-acted and crafted. Boy was I looking forward to seeing Revolutionary Road. Then I did.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this movie sucked.
This is why it sucked:
1. There is no evidence anywhere that the Wheelers have any traits or interests that would give the idea that they are special. Most people who think they are special are working with some premise: I’m an artist, I’m a writer, I’m a film director. Something. Other people seem to think they’re special, too. Why? I mean, we get one scene of Mrs. W after a community theater production flops, but she just seems irritable and ticked off; you don’t get the sense that she’s devastated, hurt to the core. Their house contains no books, not art, no anything to show that they aim to be different or unique. How are they cultivating their delusions?
2. Because we get nada as a back story, no insight into whatever grandiose dreams these two were nursing, the Wheelers come across as dull, petulant, and really boring. They start out that way and they end up that way. There are no car chases, conspiracies, alien invasions, nudity, graphic sex, or sparkly vampires, so I really needed some character development.
3. Where the hell are the kids? They have two kids that they manage to stow away somewhere whenever they need to have a scene without kids. Lucky folks. A 24-hour-oncall babysitter must live next door.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio seems to think that if he’s playing angry he should point his finger a lot. He also looks fairly ridiculous trying to be furious.
5. Actually, all the fight scenes look fairly odd, as if they were on stage and had to really tear up the scenery to make it convincing.
6. LC still looks like he’s about 12.
7. Uh, what’s so awful about these suburbs, anyway? I was expecting evidence of some stifling oppression but it didn’t really come through. Are we supposed to think the neighbors are awful and dreary? That all the houses look alike (they don’t)? Am I just supposed to accept that suburbs = soul-destroying misery?
The one thing that didn’t suck was the crazy next-door neighbor who came out of the asylum long enough to tell the Wheelers the truth about themselves.
As an aside, there were some really peculiar dated references. At one point April tells Frank that he’s one of the most beautiful things in the world: a man. Yeah, right. Then during one knockdown fight Frank tells April that any woman, any “real woman” would just love to have children. It made me think of the scenes in Rebel without a Cause in which the father is wearing an apron, thereby signaling his emasculation by the big bad woman. The crazy neighbor refers to April as a ball buster. She’s not a “real woman” and he’s not a “real man.” In the end Frank, we are told, is dedicating himself to the kids – the woman’s job. Don’t know what to make of that, but I found it odd that the movie did not in any way comment on these gender stereotypes. I suppose if they had been wildly bohemian in the first place, I would have pondered the role restrictive gender stereotypes played in their downfall, but since they were so boring to begin with, it doesn’t seem to matter much.
In the end I didn’t care what happened to Frank and April. I felt no sadness over their fates, because they had no life in the first place.