Monday, January 19, 2009

Revolutionary Road and PEEPING TOM (58)

I nearly drowned in depression on Saturday night thanks to Sam Mendes' (American Beauty, Jarhead, Road to Perdition) new film Revolutionary Road. It's been vaunted as the reunion of Titantic co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and to some degree, it's been snatching up awards at the lesser award shows.

It has to be one of the most depressing films I've ever laid eyes on.

The story, based on a famous 1960s novel by Richard Yates, follows two wide-eyed youth as they plunge in to marriage, children, and the onset of the worst pair of midlife crisises you've ever laid your eyes upon. There's something about the way Mendes portrays Frank and April Wheeler and their inevitable succumbing to the world of ticky-tack houses and gossipy neighbors and taking your identical trashcans the curb each and every day that just filled with a sort of fleeting inconsolable hopeleness unlike I've felt from a movie in a long time. There are glimpses of this very attractive couple before there lives sort of shuddered to a halt with the onset of children and a home in the suburbs where everything is happy, and you can even sort of trick yourself in to thinking the same thing when the ill-fated duo decide to fix their problems by moving the whole family to Paris. This is all just well crafted juxtaposition though, as the film spirals in to a long, and at times overly fight-laden, series of events that climax with, well, a horse pill of sadness truly daunting to ingest. The final scenes of the movie are as heart-wrenching as any I've seen in the last few months, and the bitter, hen-ish rant given by Kathy Bates in the final frame is well worth the price of admission. This world of suburban lies is one we can try and try and try to escape, but at least in the 1950s, it always dragged you back in.

I can't figure out yet if this is a film every body needs to watch for the rest of their lives so they can look inwards and see whether or not their lives have reached this sort of crushing stand still. Or if this is a film that should be seen once to meaning in the lesson(s) and then never viewed again as it seriously had me almost in panic mode over the upcoming changes I'm planning on making in my own life.

The movie itself is not Mendes or DiCaprio's best. At times the dialogue wallows in platitudes and sort of self-help pulled quotations and, as I said earlier, the bitter fights between Winslet and DiCaprio grow tinny and overwrought at times. That said, the film is absolutely beautifully shot by world's best cinematographer Roger Deakin, as he awashes the world of Frank and April in a soft and almost glowing light. The true star of the film is Kate Winslet and the path she takes in the final half is so beautifully, and internally wrought, that she deserves whatever accolades are being piled on her right now. One of my favorite actresses working today.

It's funny that Revolutionary Road filled me with such depression because Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (58) has filled me with your sort of confused creepiness. The film is about a very, very odd amateur filmmaker who is not only obsessed with watching others in, well, whatever acts they might partake, but also enjoys killing women ... with his camera. I'm not shitting you here, Mark (Carl Boehm) actually has installed a knife on the tripod legs of his camera and he'll trick women in to letting him film them and then, whammy, films them in to their final moment. As of now I'm enjoying the film, but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be saying. Boehm's Mark is a real head case of an individual and his interaction, strangely enough with only redheads, is made even creepier by his inflicted accent and the shifty way he moves his eyes.

This is a weird movie, albeit an enjoyable one, but the sense of uncomfortableness it fills me with will not be soon missed.

Tuesday: Peeping Tom (58)

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