An AICN poster named Dave Feldman has posted a very positive reaction to an early screening of Sam MendesRevolutionary Road in White Plains, New York, and that’s fine. But the guy doesn’t know how to spell “bawling” — in his mind it’s “balling” — and this, I feel, opens up a whole universe of caution and interpretation about the world of Mr. Feldman. If you don’t know how to spell “bawling,” what else don’t you know? What other aspects of the human condition have you misread or missed out on?
“The movie’s a killer,” he begins. “Clear the decks — this is a great ride.” Well and good, but then Feldman feels obliged to describe costar Kate Winslet as Mendes’ “beautiful wife” and again you go “what?” I don’t trust anyone who introduces any artist as someone’s beautiful wife or handsome husband. Artists stand on their own or they’re nothing, and information about who they’re married to or living with is a waste of breath in a review, so obviously one needs to say “watch it!” when reading anyone who brings this up.
Winslet plays “an idealistic wife in 1950s Connecticut who realizes that her dreams and freedom have withered away,” he writes, “[so] she persuades her husband, the debonair Leonardo DiCaprio, to rediscover the thing that made their marriage vital.” Winslet, he believes, has “never been better.” Okay, fine.
“I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say that DiCaprio goes along for the ride for a bit, but soon reality sets in and they’ve got to make some life-altering changes. Let’s just say not only was DiCaprio’s character balling [sic] by the end, but most of the audience was too.”
“The performances are absolutely stunning, he explains, “true powerhouse roles like we haven’t since in a lonnng time. I bet comparisons to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are inevitable, and dare I say that DiCaprio and Winslet outshine Taylor and Newman.” Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman‘s performance, he means, in a not-very-good adaptation of a so-so play. The guy is referencing a 50 year-old movie that feels classic to some because of the current Broadway stage revival? Puzzling.
This, I say, is the third and final nail in the coffin. “Balling” plus “Mendes’ beautiful wife’ plus Cat on a Hot Tin Roofover and out.
Another AICN guy who called himself “Jay Diggler” (meaning…what, that he fancies himself a ladies’ man because his member is almost as large as Dirk Diggler’s?) liked it also — a little bit less than Feldman, but he’s a more explicit writer and seems more thoughtful and circumspect.
The film “clocked in at about 2 and 1/2 hours but it never felt that long,” he writes. “It starts off with the end of a play that April is starring in and shows Frank’s disappointing face. Turns out this play is in a local high school and April [we learn] never became the actress she really wanted to be. This scene culminates in an intense screaming match between the two and Frank punching the car followed by the credits or Revolutionary Road.
“This sets the mood for how this movie is going to be. April is a failed actress/depressed housewife and Frank is a failure working at a crappy job he hates [because he feels he’s] becoming his dad.
“DiCaprio and Winslet give Oscar worthy perfomances throughout the film. Their fights are intense; one in particular gave me the chills. You can see the anguish behind April’s eyes as she goes on each day, hiding the fact that she’s miserable. When April comes up with the idea to move to France and start over, you can see happiness reenter both of their lives and you really hope that everything works out for them. Those who’ve read the book know that this is only wishful thinking . For those that haven’,I don’t want to spoil the results.” You don’t?
Diggler believes that Mendes “really blew” the ending, though. “They could’ve had a perfect ending that left you feeling for the characters but they tacked on some scenes at the end that were unnecessary and they failed to give you any time to process what happened to the characters. [This is] a missed opportunity that I hope is corrected in the final cut. I made sure to detail my problems with the ending in the sheet that they passed around to everyone.
“Overall though I really enjoyed the film, the acting kept the movie afloat and I’m sure we’ll see a couple names from this movie [among] the Oscar nominations. For Sam Mendes [this is] not as good as American Beauty but still a great job.”