Revolutionary Road

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We hadn’t planned on watching the latest diCaprio and Winslett pairing in Revolutionary Road, but we found ourselves last weekend, in the cinema settling down to watch what has been called a most depressing film. You don’t watch this movie looking for a feel good hit, but we found it absorbing and thought provoking and the acting was superb from all the main characters. This extract from David Cox’s film blog, sums it up nicely: “Last year, a team at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University examining the impact of romantic films found that they instil unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage. As team leader Kimberly Johnson put it, “Films do capture the excitement of new relationships, but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet.” Apparently, rom-com fans expect, among other things, that sex will always be perfect, and that their partners will know what they want without having to be told. Revolutionary Road, on the other hand, like the compelling book on which it is based, tries to deal in truths, however unwelcome, rather than agreeable myths. Its real hero is Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon’s inconveniently outspoken manic-depressive, who insists on laying bare the dangerous realities that everyone else is trying to ignore. Of course, the path of true love doesn’t always lead to calamity. Yet, those navigating the tricky waters of romance need warnings of the rocks and reefs ahead more than intimations of the happy haven in which they hope to lay anchor. The movies will already have stuffed their heads with all too many of the latter. Revolutionary Road points out the potential pitfalls in relationships and hints at ways round them. It also provides satisfactions more enduring than those offered by the rickety rapture in which so much screen romance wallows. Tragedy transmutes catastrophe into art. In so doing, it gives it a kind of beauty, helps us come to terms with it and equips us to confront it. Just what “catharsis” is actually supposed to entail continues to be disputed. Yet if Revolutionary Road does no more than help purge cinemagoers of a surfeit of romantic nonsense, it will have done us all some service”.

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