This post is about another novel to screen adaptation that I came to know about in the year it released, that is 2008. This was in a formative year of high school when the pungent realities of life were rearing their heads out of an abyss of sometimes romanticized promise that adolescence initiates. True representations of the complexities of life in finely crafted dramatic works was what I preferred to learn from even then as every vein of human experience, the personal and beyond could be bared open as such and it was so much more emphatic to engage with concerns that were rooted in spaces that you and I shared. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD as a film was limited to the one movie review I had read on it in the national daily Hindustan Times and I grasped it was an intense meditation on the domestic graveness being borne in a relationship between husband and wife. This couple was of course played by the legendary screen pair of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
I did not read up much on it since then and so when I watched it few weeks ago, the blank slate as regards limited information on the screenplay helped me unravel the nifty details of the everyday that it so beautifully addresses. It drifted around my radar and when it unraveled, I gradually found the private merging interminably with the universal. The state of marriage extends much beyond its post War setting here and is as much applicable today as to any era earmarked by us. That way, its social urgency is much sought after and I found it liberating that the rhythm of the emergency presented here was not in your face. After the romantic and tragic head rush of TITANIC (1998), I found it clever on the part of the director Sam Mendes to sort of turn the tables in their coupling a decade later. Titanic recreated the turnaround of a real life catastrophe and did it with effective agency. Here the agency of two people spells the destruction of domestic bliss.
Here nothing is in the epic vicinity of that all time blockbuster and this diversity helps us to understand the acclimatization these performers bring to the table to acutely realize our own ins and outs with such conviction on screen . Good for us since their sincerity as artists gives much needed contemplative angst and dramatic heft to this universal tale of individuality coming undone at the altar of societal expectations. The mutual covenant between man and wife is pitched around the home and the world. This festering authority that you want to escape passionately and yet are controlled by is a product of wagging tongues, gossip and milling crowds that have more sway over us and hence a breakthrough that should be the sacred sacrament of a bond is indefinitely held back. The conflict is not so much between two but on the part of a multitude who should remain outside the purview of a secure relationship.
I know some would think the problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans in our troubled world but then I believe and I know I am not alone in maintaining this stance that every private suffering, remonstration by a particular individual is sign of the times where the personal is indicative of the state of our world at large . Internal values then take turns to break our public spirits. It is this outside world itself that is the most unpredictable external stimulus.
This film remains footed with the authenticity of life where even two people who are in love and attempt to have their best shot at constructing a collective destiny, want to make things work succumb under larger pressures. Adults never had it easy and it is presented here with a multi generational arc so that every demographic finds a nerve touched. The revolution of breaking free of monotony within a marriage and its eventual failure is more pointed towards the price of material evolution we have to pay. Rules of mankind loom over the private homestead of two individuals and for this very reason I won’t be mentioning the names of the characters as I feel the universal quality of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD has to be maintained. As if everything as regards information about this film is splayed all over print and electronic media so my idea is to keep it in the realm of its concerns and justify them as my next post will show.
I also felt this to be a more inverted take on The Doll’s House, that iconic play by Henrik Ibsen. Here both man and wife have their demons to spare but ultimately the greater burden is wrought on the lady of the hearth. The conformity of the characters towards an upper middle class mobility was quite different and hence not on the lines of a kitchen sink drama either , where working class lives and realism of issues, especially those hardly discussed in the mainstream, came to the fore. However the different time line presented and the one in which it is shot makes the difference. This film, made in the 21st century, touches upon difficult issues with tact and so somewhere the realism invested here is an extension of that school of thought as I felt personally.
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is a profoundly affecting take on human bonds and I implore those married and otherwise to watch it to see how untended wounds and unfulfilled desires amounting to freedom can stifle the home and then a private world which is when things seep uncontrollably in a broader public forum. In the next part, I will further share my thoughts about some of the pivotal aspects of the film.