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Scraping Bottom: Revolutionary Road

Scraping Bottom: Revolutionary Road

Let’s put it plain: in any sane world, Revolutionary Road would be laughed off as a joyless embarrassment before we moved on to more pressing business. Yet while this latest Oscar-baiting turkey will doubtlessly find its ultimate fate in the critical memory hole, the reason for the season demands that we speak of it as if it deserved serious consideration; as if this is a case of “flaws” in an otherwise worthy whole. Make no mistake, though: this is folly of a grand order, though any potential glee one might take in skewering it is deflated by the ruthlessly enervating experience of sitting through it. This, perhaps, is the most devious stratagem of the would-be prestige pic. The almost calculated air of mediocrity that hangs about such tripe blends it seamlessly into the muddled background of innumerable nondescript films seen and long forgotten; they bank on lazy perception and short memories to procure their brief moment of rote, half-hearted praise.

A brief admission that the derivation of this particular piece of bilge remains unknown to me: Richard Yates’ 1961 source novel apparently commands a degree of respect from those who presumably Googled it to prep for their reviews of Mendes’s adaptation; from the sole evidence of the latter, I can only surmise that the novel was one of the early entries in the stultifying-suburbia subgenre which helped set the mold for innumerable, progressively petrified efforts to follow. Boy (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets Girl (Kate Winslet), youthful idealism gives way to youthful apathy and complacency as the suburban dream cottage is bought, children issue forth and hubby moves into stifling corporate milieu, a dream of reignited potential (a move to Paris, where Boy can discover what he “really wants to do”) smothered by the rot of upward mobility and the innate cowardice and unimaginativeness of Boy, while Girl just dies by inches inside, don’tcha know.

Click here to read the rest of Andrew Tracy’s review of Revolutionary Road.

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