Friday, March 20, 2009

Revolutionary Road

I enjoyed Revolutionary Road, which many critics described as a sequel to The Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are dried off and ensconced in upper middle class suburbia. But I thought it was particularly clever of Todd McCarthy, in his Variety review, to proclaim this the prequel to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" - the cinema's classic depiction of the endgame of suburban stultification.

Yet I felt that none of the film's reviews came close to aptly characterizing the movie, which is about ego. The egoic yearning to feel special and central is crushed by a conformist existence. But there are enough small rewards within The Game to keep most people hanging on for a few decades. Revolutionary Road is about three people, one of whom sees the absurdity for what it is (and is certifiably insane), one who sees it but only waveringly (and who's merely suspected of being insane), and one captivated by The Game so long as a brass ring dangles just out of reach.

It asks particularly deep questions about conformity. We've seen myriad stories about artists and dreamers bridling against conformist pressure. But Revolutionary Road shows noncomformist wannabes who utterly lack vision or talent. They only dream of being dreamers. That raises truly interesting questions about ego and conformity - questions the movie's too slippery and subtle to firmly answer.

Clever though McCarthy's reference was, he completely missed the point of the film, as he did in his review of another of my favorites, The Remains of the Day.

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