Revolutionary Road

Kate Winslet ("Finding Neverland" and "The Holiday") is a wonderful actress; and one actor who can go toe-to-toe with her is Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Aviator" and "Body of Lies"). Their pairing in "Titanic" was a fluke which resulted in unsettling super-stardom. It looks as though both of them managed to survive that early challenge, and they have each settled into a steady flow of exceptional movies and performances which tells us that they are in it for the long haul. Many youngsters have been derailed by similar circumstances, so I'm happy to see their stability and appreciate their consistently high-quality work.

As is true of most "Art" films, this one is NOT fun. It is exceptionally well acted with each of our principals taking turns as less-than-perfect human beings, taking turns in the spotlight with wonderful gut-wrenching scenes, and taking turns being appealing and attractive. They give us a close-up view of a relationship -- both good and bad -- after our loving couple has married, moved to Connecticut, had two children and he has become a commuter into the city to a job he hates. (Hmmm... Sounds like "The Dreaded Daily-ness" of living, doesn't it?)

You already know I want someone to root for, but both of these characters have feet of clay. I was dismayed to see how realistically they evoked the 50s with the continual cigarette smoking and the constant drinking. How quickly we forget! I found it curious that during their most dramatic scenes, their two children were conveniently elsewhere.

Kathy Bates ("Primary Colors" and "About Schmidt") does her usual flawless work, but to me, the most interesting character is her son, who is on "leave" from a mental institution. Of all the people in the entire movie: neighbors, co-workers, lovers, bosses, acquaintances, etc., he was the only person who spoke "Truth" with a capitol "T." Everyone else tiptoed around, skirting the issues and making nice. This guy just blurts out all the nasty thoughts everyone else is secretly thinking. Michael Shannon ("Lucky You" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead") plays that role to creepy perfection.

Remember that I said this film is NOT fun, but it is well-written, well-acted, and well-received. We'll probably hear more about it when Academy Award season rolls around. (...sigh....)