Cabot Circus A Revolutionary Road


This weekend I had the privilege to visit the new Showcase DeLux part of the Cabot Circus development in Bristol and watch Sam Mendes new flick, Revolutionary Road. If you like your cinemas to look like 5 star hotels and your seats to rock back and forth in a squishy fashion then this cinema is for you. Everything about the theatre screamed deluxe, all except the mad, old cat lady who chose, inexplicably, to sit next to me in an empty cinema. Nice. I always attract the weirdoes.

Anyway, my thoughts on Revolutionary Road were mixed, I generally felt a bit ‘so-so’. It’s a good melodrama, not over acting, just over emotion I think. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are, of course, excellent as the Wheelers and the tensions between their relationship stretch and snap throughout the narrative with dynamic crackle. It’s a firecracker waiting to go off, simmer down and then go off again.

The most intriguing character in the film is the asylum bound son of busy body neighbour, Kathy Bates. This “madman” is a kind of Greek Chorus, entering the drama at critical intervals to speak the truth of the characters feelings to the audience. It’s a bit clich├ęd, the crazy guy is the only one who understands them, and that he’s not “crazy” just ahead of his time. But then there are so many films which talk about 1950s American suburban conformity and the inevitable misery it caused, “the problem with no name” has a voice, but not one that any can take seriously.

The “empty hopelessness” of their situation is what I felt about the film. It’s not a tearjerker and it’s not depressing, it’s just flat. It’s an obvious conclusion and one you expect from early on in the film which is why it’s not shocking. My lust for life had been drained by the drama so when Winslet appears blood soaked and tragic I wasn’t that empathetic, I just flatly watched with no sense of horror. Maybe that’s the point?

The main problem for me was I didn’t care they didn’t realise their dream. Maybe that is the point, Winslet’s character talks about living on a hope that DiCaprio shared her dream of escape and bohemian living (bohemian in the sense that it was not the democratic liberalism of 50s suburbia) and maybe the audience are supposed to empathise with her because we too are living on a hope. It’s interesting that DiCaprio’s character is the only one to have gone (apart from their lusty neighbour) and is less motivated. Maybe ‘hope’ is more driving than ‘experience’ in life?

Also, as part of the tragic conclusion DiCaprio opts to leave suburbia to live in the city, living out the exciting life he hoped they could have lived in America. I just don’t know why he didn’t instigate this sooner. Also, did he not go to Paris because of his Dad? Because of social pressure? Because he was a realist? Who knows?

In conclusion, it is a good film; the cinematography, art direction and musical score all reflect Mendes other films (The Road to Perdition especially) and it’s probably one of those films you like more, as you think about it more…

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