18 June 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road: I love this kind of movie. These domestic horror stories of man and wife put asunder. This one isn’t as good as, say, All Or Nothing, it lacks the bitter humor and cinder block squalor of that limey working class saga. And, at times, it’s hard to see past the star shine of DiCaprio (who still looks a bit baby-faced to play a grown-up) and Winslet to the ‘hopeless emptiness’ of their 1950s suburban existence. But look, mate, if you’ve been with the same person every single night, without a break, for eighteen years, you’d understand my morbid fondness for these *prison* flicks. My standard for judging these kinds of movies is quite simple: have me and the old lady experienced similar turmoil? Do I understand the misery of the beleaguered couple up on the screen? Well, we don’t look like Leo and Kate, but me and the old lady have had the same loud *discussions.*

Revolutionary Road has the feel of a Greek tragedy. DiCaprio’s and Winslet’s characters, Jack and April Wheeler, are perceived, both by themselves and those around them, as a *special* couple. . .talented, extraordinary people destined for grand adventures. Alas, the Wheelers are perfectly ordinary. Sheeple dressed in purple robes. And they are as mystified about what to do with their lives as their dullard neighbors, upon whom they look down.

With their marriage sinking in the quicksand of existential angst, the Wheelers dream of an escape to Paris. People are alive there, April says to Jack. Ha. April’s never been on the metro #13 line heading toward Saint-Denis around 17:00 and seen the grim faces of the good people of Paris, or she’d know they are just as defeated by life. No, the Wheelers’ problem isn’t environmental, it’s organic. The problem lies deep within their secular souls.

Equally flawed, the Wheelers are unable to help each other deal with the existential questions of life. In the end, they can only blame each other for becoming trapped in the soul-less suburban pseudo-life they imagined themselves above. Given the era the movie is set in, anteRoe v. Wade, the heaviest toll for the Wheelers’ hubris is exacted from April.

Our domestic tragedy’s chorus is provided by the character John (played with great exuberance by an actor named Michael Shannon), the institutionalized adult son of the Wheelers’ realtor and suburbia apologist, Helen (played by the aging cow Kathy Bates). Given the era the movie is set in, anteProzac, John’s depression is treated by electroshock and hospitalization. Granted a few weekend furloughs, Helen believes her son might be cheered by a little social intercourse with the magnificent Wheelers. But John soon discovers the essential mediocrity and timidity of Jack Wheeler, and the essential mediocrity and coldness of April Wheeler, and delivers to them his own electroshock therapy, in the form of his blistering commentary on the Wheelers’ hamartia.

Since I can’t remember what it was like to be unmarried, I don’t know if single people would *get* this movie. Hell, even childless couples (the Wheelers have two kids, who are rarely seen. . .the pressure of parenthood is mostly suggested, and not shown) probably wouldn’t get it. As I was married for ten years before the stork first came along, I now consider those days nothing but *playing house.* Married with children, now that’s the ninth circle of. . .well, er, let’s just say that’s the *real deal.* And watching movies like Revolutionary Road is the married penitents’ self-flagellation.


  1. I really enjoyed this review. I've got one scheduled in my haus that's very, very different.

    I read the book when I was about 20, I was single, and I got something very different out of it. I saw the film when it came out and again on DVD last week.

    The cinematic extraction wasn't bad. Had I not read the book I'd have thought it was a great film.

    I've been faithfully married for 14 years by the way. I know I'm crazy but I adore her still. She's pretty (even at 39), smart, into equality (she works and doesn't leave everything to me, in other words) and a great mother. She also puts up with all my hangups, neurotic personal crap, the fact that I occasionally write for kooky Communist newspapers, the girls at my job who regularly fall in love with me, and my extended family which stalks and harasses her. That in itself makes her a keeper; because frankly I'd have walked the long mile to the door a long time ago if her family acted like mine. There are some real assholes in my tree.

    This would mean nothing except for the fact that it's probably the underlying reason why we approach this film in such a different way.

  2. I am looking forward to reading your review.

  3. I'll have to watch this with the bearded menace, and hope it will help in driving her away. I have turned to scripture, and am quoting passages to her about women being subservient (Corinthians 11:3, etc), and she hates that so it seems to be working. You seem, I have to get her to initiate the breakup to make things easier.
    No offense to Janet or Greg, the bible says only a church deacon is supposed to have just one woman. I keep several concubines in my harem of neighborhood chickenheads who I pick up for the occasional $40 humjob. It's only a big problem if you are nailing someone's wife (adultery). Well, there are some other big problems (samesex partners, sex with animals, hurting kids, etc). But oral sex from chicken heads no worse than poking your dolphin into a honeydew melon, which also feels very nice if you keep the melon at room temperature and cut the hole to fit snug.

  4. Something else I've found that is nice dumping Gold Bond Medicated powder on your nutsack before heading out for the day. It will make an otherwise dull day feel like a night in Bangkok. That should be their advertisement: "Gold Bond, it's a party in your pants"

    "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."Ecclesiastes 7:29

  5. Hey Joey,

    I'd suggest you convert to Mormonism, but they frown on the sucky-sucky. It's like their version of mortal sin. Anyway I grew up in a polygamist and crypto-polygamist environment. I think I found one of the tiny handful of women in the universe who would put up with my shit, stay faithful and not divorce me. For me, a faithful marriage is a revolutionary act, a lifelong symbol of defiance against my upbringing. I dig it, but can't say it's superior to whatever you've got going on.

    I only know that if you're calling her the bearded menace, then you should probably throw her out this evening and find someone a bit better. Life's too short, you know?

    Sorry for the sermon. Just think you oughta be moderately happy. If I wasn't, I'd probably settle for a piece of hand the rest of my life than go to the trouble. Maybe one of the pretty-mouthed chickies in the stable would be better off in her place? Only you know for certain. Just please don't end up in a Wheeler type marriage. Seen it, grew up in it. It ain't no fun.

    Good luck brother.

  6. The pretty-mouth chickies are the local streetwalkers, so there's no way I would invite them into my apartment -- I won't even do half-and-half. They are good for car only hummers,and when they finish I always frost my bishop with a layer of foaming antibacterial soap just to be safe.
    So I saw the Mormons try to apply the dietary law scriptures to oral sex, and that is just nutty. Jesus says in Matthew and Thomas that it is not what goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, but what comes out of your mouth, so there is no way breaking any dietary laws is going to be a mortal sin. The bible prohibits some sex activities, but oral sex is not prohibited -- in fact, it is not even mentioned in the bible.
    Anyway, I should kick out the bearded menace but I just don't have the heart to be that cruel, so I have to make her want to leave. She doesn't even realize I am done with this all, because I took her out to dinner and said I wanted to talk to her about something serious, but then I lost my nerve and didn't breakup with her there. Well, she said later that night that she thought I was about to propose, and if I did she would have said yes. How much sadder could the situation be? She is a nice person, but sex with her is traumatic for me because of her razor stubble and manstench -- it's like I'm being forced to sleep with a linebacker from Green Bay.
    Anyway, you are lucky that you have a good relationship Gregori, and I will try not to be jealous of you (though I probably will be sometimes). Even Janet is lucky to have kids to play with, and doesn't have to fight the Battle of the Beard. This is why I focus now so much on scriptures about avoiding envy -- since my natural tendency is to be jealous of everyone.

  7. Sorry J, but as soon as i read that Kate Winslet wasn't nude i lost intrest. She is my second girl crush. ;)

  8. Joey, for the sake of you and the girl, please break up with her. I haven't got a leg to stand on when it comes to cruelty, but really, staying with this girl is cruel.

    She thought you were going to propose? She is committing way more than you are committing to the relationship.

    Please, believe me. Break up with her. It is actually the most compassionate thing you can do even though she will likely think differently.

  9. Joey, I think you stepped out of *Somebody Goofed.* When are you gonna pull off the mask?

    Niki, my favorite Winslet nude movie is *Holy Smoke*--you ever see that one?

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  11. I saw Holy Smoke probably after your review Persyn X. I thought it was a great film.

    Joey you should really go see this film mate. That's really what it's talking about. Alienation, seeing people as objects and consumer goods as subjects, and dehumanization. These chickenheads are people, you know? So is the bearded menace. So are you, believe it or not. You're a great guy. You deserve to have an authentic relationship and an exciting life brother. I hope you give it to yourself. Jack Wheeler didn't.

    Read the book if you can. The writing is delicious.

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  13. Is Persyn X an Irani/Persian? Cool beans. I heard a rumor he converted from Islam but didn't pay it much mind at the time.

    The word Iran stems from the same word Eireann does - It means 'noble born' in Indo-European; and Tehran is full of Aryans, same as Dublin.

    Aryan is a linguistic/cultural term, more than a genetic one. The cute black chickie in your neighborhood there, who speaks English and grew up in North America... she's as Aryan as Lamb and Lynx. The blonde, blue eyed Nordic type from Finland, however, ain't an Aryan. She's what you might call a Uralic. Different mythology, different language family, different way of thinking. The cute blonde Turkish gal, she's an Altaic, more similar to the dark skinned residents of Ulaan Bator than to you. Phenotype != Genotype.

    Anyway you're a really good guy. You ain't doing anything most of my peers aren't. You're just honest enough to admit it, come to grips with it, and try to deal with it.

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  15. The main danger the living face is that they die in their sins, without asking Jesus to forgive them. Another danger is that a day will come when people could commit the unforgivable sin:

    "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
    For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say."
    Luke 12:10

    "But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost"
    Mark 13:11