Thursday, January 15, 2009

Their life is a sinking ship...again

It was a little more than eleven years ago that two young movie stars, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, were the "it couple" of Hollywood thanks to a massive and gigantic movie called Titanic. They portrayed Jack and Rose in a classic love story that would defy the world...but not a sinking ocean liner. It would still make a zillion dollar and win a ton of Oscars.

For some reason, the studios never got the chance to pair them off for another movie again. Looking back, it may have been just as well. These two actors have been reunited in a dark look at suburban life in the '50's, Revolutionary Road. It hasn't dominated movie screens as their last movie, but it's still a sharp look at how "happily ever after" isn't.

It may also be one of two reasons why Winslet's bad luck at the Oscars will finally end. Her portrayal of April Wheeler, a housewife who was hoping to be more than just a housewife, is just wonderful. You can just see the pain inside her, as she tries to revive even the hope of a life she had hoped she'd have with her husband, Frank.
DiCaprio is also great as Frank, and it looks like he may be overlooked by the Oscars in favor of Frank Langella, Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke. Still, there's no overlooking his portrayal as a man who may wish he had a more exciting life, but that doesn't mean he'd go all the way to make the wish come true.

I know some people have been "disappointed" with the movie, and calling it "Mad Men, the movie." Well, this isn't set in 1960, where the world is about to change. It's in 1955, when you were expected to say your suburban life is Heaven on Earth. When we first meet Frank and April in 1948, they are taken to each other, and have wonderful dreams of an exciting life. She'd be a successful actress and he'd do something creative. Cut to 1955, it hasn't worked out that way. They have two kids and the usual two-bedroom home. It's enough for most couples, but not them. April then decides they should chuck it all and move to Paris, and Frank likes this idea. He doesn't seem to be too special at his job, so why not a fresh start? Who knows, maybe he'll wind up being King of the World.

However, their plans hit two icebergs, which other people would think are actually blessings. It's safe to say this changes everything, especially the Wheelers' expectations for the future. You kind of wonder if Jack and Rose could handle the same situation if they lived in the mid '50's.

Some have also compared this movie to American Beauty, which. like Road, is directed by Sam Mendes. The only difference is that Frank and April at least try to stay together, but their desires won't allow that. Compare that to the life of the neighbors Milly and Shep, played by Kathryn Hahn and David Harbour. When they hear of the Wheelers' Paris dreams, Milly actually weeps. They quickly try to convince themselves their life is still the best, but there is that envy. Also in the mix is Michael Shannon as John, the son of a realtor who has been in a mental institution but has more insight on the Wheelers' lives than anyone.

It's a tough movie to see, but it is worth your while because of Winslet and DiCaprio's performances. It sure beats Bride Wars, even though most movies would. But, in case you want a hard-fought fairy tale, Slumdog Millionaire is for you.

All that's left for me is The Wrestler, which will finally reach Sacramento this weekend, but at only one theater. You'd think after Rourke's big win at the Golden Globes, more theaters would show it. Well, I'm sure the release will get wider after the nominations are announced next week. After seeing the trailer several times, though, I just can't wait anymore.

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