Saturday, August 22, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Sam Mendes, 2008 (8.7*)
Finally, an adult drama that is thoroughly engrossing and powerful. Richard Yates novel about alienation is brilliantly filtered through the directing eyes of Sam Mendes (American Beauty), concidentally, star Kate Winslet's husband in real life. Here Winslet is reunited with Leonardo DiCaprio as suburban married couple Frank and April Wheeler. By outward appearance they are typically normal and happy, but inside neither is fulfilled, and the story is about marital and emotional desperation, the lack of personal identity that each feels, and their ideas for escape from their suburban prison.

There are some of the most emotionally gripping scenes in recent films between DiCaprio and Winslet, in some ways the best acting each has acheived; Winslet won a Golden Globe for her performance (and four others, see below), but won her Oscar® for The Reader, which wasn't nearly as involved or emotional a role as this one, which I think elevates her to the level of the elite group of best all-time actresses (Davis, Hepburn, Streep, Glenda Jackson). Kathy Bates is spot on as usual as their unsuspecting real estate agent, one of those positive and polite people who are everywhere. Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon steals his scenes as Bates' mentally unstable son, who is very perceptive but also undiplomatic about his observations, like we all want to be.

This is an exhausting but remarkably real story, all perfectly balanced by Mendes and a terrific screenplay adaptation by Justin Haythe from the Richard Yates novel, yet the Oscar nominations were art direction, costume design, and Shannon's performance for supporting actor. Both Haythe and DiCaprio should have each been nominated as well as director Mendes, as for me this was a more rewarding film than American Beauty, which won best picture and director.

Kate Winslet won five international acting awards for this role - click here for the awards page at IMDB


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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