Revolutionary Road and Reviewing Reviews
This post is in two parts. First I review reviews then the movie Revolutionary Road.
On good read, books are reviewed on a 5 star rating, yelp reviews restaurants on a 5 star rating, Amazon as well as a great many e-commerce sites also review their products on the account of the number of stars people think they deserve. In fact, a great deal of reviewing happens on a 5 star rating. Movies are often reviewed differently. Of the three most popular review metrics for movies, exactly zero is 5 star based. My favourite movie reviewer on Youtube uses the High school grading system.
When I first started reviewing things, I thought it would be nice to do my reviews solely on just two options, did I recommend or advice against whatever it was I was reviewing. Of course this would be preceded by a fairly exhaustive discussion but at the end of the day it drew down to this. Over time I have tried my hands on a couple of different styles but I have finally decided to settle with 5 star ratings. Why? For the sole reason that it had the most votes on a twitter pole I ran. Nothing else. I bet you thought it would be more profound.
For the most part, reviews don’t do justice to the thing being reviewed. They are extremely subjective and not nearly as exhaustive as they need be. My favourite reviewers are Marquez Brownlee and John Green. Both of whom employ a technique where they talk extensively about the thing being reviewed. Mkbhd as Marquez is more popularly known is openly subjected as opposed to John who tries as much as possible to be subjected and even admits to bias when he is not. It’s probably impossible to give a truly objective judgement on a product that you either liked or disliked and for this reason, I find reviews lacking. I give reviews a 3 star.
Leonardo Di Caprio is a really good actor. Not much that he seems to have a lot of talent but more for the fact that you can always see that he is putting a great deal of effort into whatever character he is portraying. For this reason, I often feel like it is difficult for other actors in whatever movie he is in to live up to that same light or level of impressiveness. I have similar sentiments towards Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Jake Gyllenhaal to mention a few. In Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet outshines him in no subtle way. Okay, perhaps that is debatable and perhaps that debate need not even be had. The movie, especially scenes with both of them, was in many ways brilliant, a feat that I believe is 70% to their credit and 30% to the writers. I mean not to rob the writers off much deserved accolades but the dynamic between the characters of April (portrayed by Kate) and Frank (Leonardo) was hugely as electric as it was because these two actors really went at it from the very start to the end although by the end, the movie was on cruise mode.
Revolutionary Road is a movie directed by Sam Mendes and is based on a 1961novel of the same name, written by Richard Yates. Screenplay is by Justin Haythe and it stars Leonardo Dicaprio , Kate Winslet, Michal Shannon (who received nomination for best supporting role although he only appeared in 3 scenes and had on screen time of perhaps 5 minutes) and a host of other respectable names (including Kathy Bates). This is the second time Leo and Kate are starring opposite each other, first time being in the 3 hour long Titanic of a movie. If for some reason, you bore fantasies of how Kate and Leo were perfect for each other after their first on screen romance, this second outing is sure to shake you a little.
RR places the spotlight on the turbulent marriage of a young, middle class couple facing problems that are most definitely not foreign to many couples of the same sphere today. April and Frank have many heated conversations during the course of this movie, many of which take place in ear shot of the children for whom they seem to not care much about how they might be affected by this. The movie of course doesn’t explore this, a story untold I suppose. The characters in this movie are complex enough that the dialogue they have is never dull. Not for any reason.
The score of this movie is by Thomas Newton ( whom I am a fan of) and is one of the best scores I have had the pleasure of listening to for quite some. It adequately accentuates the tone of the scenes in which it is employed. As movie with conflicts often do, many of the high tension scenes happen in absolute silence. Of course I love this but for some reason, the scenes in RR felt a little lacking in this aspect and it’s not something I can quite put my hand on.
I avoided watching this movie for some time due to a fear I had that it would feel dragging. I am pleased to say that it did not. I was hooked by the 6th minute mark and I particularly enjoyed the very last scene.
Micheal Shannon’s character, a mental institution patient might be the best instigator I have seen on screen this year. I can’t say it surprises me greatly that his short performance received recognition. His character was sharp mouther and blunt, everything that a movie about a falling marriage needs.
Asides from the movie making quality (which I do commend if that was unclear) I found that this story touched on some extremely important topics, from empowerment, marriage dynamics, infidelity to abortion. I feel that I might be tempted to pick up the book just for the potential that it might have a little more to say… As books often do.
I give Revolutionary Road 4 stars.