By Hemanth Kissoon
Am I being fair, but are director Sam Mendes’ films getting progressively worse? ROAD TO PERDITION was fundamentally flawed by the casting of Tom Hanks, who was totally unbelievable as a tough, ex-First World War soldier turned mafia henchman, plus it was hamstrung by cloying sentimentality. JARHEAD looked pretty and showed the tedium of war well, but evaporated in the memory quickly after the credits rolled.
Now he has returned to the arena of suburbia. The question in mind is why he and Kate Winslet bothered? They both dealt with our angst superbly in AMERICAN BEAUTY and LITTLE CHILDREN respectively. Now they are revisiting it (with Winslet’s TITANIC colleagues: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kathy Bates), by adapting Richard Yates’ 1960s masterpiece. Both AMERICAN BEAUTY and LITTLE CHILDREN tackle, among other things, the complexities of marriage, infidelity and broken dreams; which is also what REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is concerned with. The major differences here being the greater inequality between women and men, and deeper societal conservatism, due to the time period settings.
This is pre-sexual revolution America. This is the superficial veneer of decency and happiness, when what is bubbling under the surface is disillusionment and hypocrisy. The novel had quietly crushing insights into private and professional lives and aspirations. It explores vanity and perception. This maybe sacrilege to some…cinema is my first love after all…but…I am deeply sceptical that it is possible for a film to do a remarkable book justice. For those who admire the novel, this will be an inadequate silver screen experience; but for those who fall outside of that camp, this is an old-school drama that will not be a waste of time.