Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)

***
USA



In order to warrant putting your name across one of the great literary works of a given century, you have to bring to it life, something fresh - something more. And Sam Mendes' adaptation is unquestionably something less. The context of the harsh idyll of 1950s Connecticutt and the notion of whether this is the culprit that has oppressed the Wheelers or whether the Wheelers have done their own oppressing but blame only their environment: that is, the crux of Richard Yates' wrenching novel - well, that is gone. The notion of Frank Wheeler being prematurely shoved into marriage and his dad's job, and of April Wheeler's life amounting to the perpetual crushing of a horrific cry of anguish. Fractions of these do translate, and there are glimmers of an authentic-seeming and telling dynamic between the Wheelers that hints at something bigger and shattering, but inevitably they are something of a pale copy. The majority of the film is pale, and also stiff.

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