Variety weighs in on ‘Revolutionary Road’

Posted by · 4:38 pm · November 17th, 2008

UPDATE: We’re not out of the woods yet. The Hollywood Reporter gives it the thumbs-down, something I didn’t notice earlier, as the review was buried in their impossible website. (Seriously, guys, work on it.) Anyway, Kirk Honeycutt calls it “didactic” and “emotionally overblown,” and has nothing to say about the performances.

On the other hand, Honeycutt makes no secret of his disdain for the source material (“it fails to escape the novel’s misogyny and contempt for anything suburban”), so make of that what you will.

EARLIER: And it’s good news, even if they have some reservations. Unlike Kris, I haven’t had the privilege of seeing this yet, but it sure as hell sounds like an across-the-board contender to me:

“Revolutionary Road” is a very good bigscreen adaptation of an outstanding American novel — faithful, intelligent, admirably acted, superbly shot. It also offers a near-perfect case study of the ways in which film is incapable of capturing certain crucial literary qualities, in this case the very things that elevate the book from being a merely insightful study of a deteriorating marriage into a remarkable one.

DiCaprio often achieves the kind of double register the film as a whole less consistently captures, as he indicates Frank’s thought process in the split second before he decides what to say. At certain moments, the conjoined cerebral and emotional aspects of his characterization summon the spirit of Jack Nicholson’s breakthrough performances around the time of “Five Easy Pieces.”

Winslet’s perf is less surprising, perhaps, if only because she has shown tremendous range throughout her career. April is a difficult role in that her mood changes sometimes seem inexplicable, but the thesp makes them all seem genuine, which resonates with Frank’s occasional hints that she’s possibly in need of psychiatric help. Winslet’s starkly etched April is steely, strong and brittle, capable of great highs and lows as well as massive uncertainty.

Pic’s startling supporting turn comes from Michael Shannon, who’s mesmerizing as the clinically insane son of local realtor and busybody Helen Givings (Kathy Bates). He’s a loony who is able to tell the truth about the Wheelers that everyone else so politely avoids; when Shannon is onscreen, it’s impossible to watch anyone else.

The rest here. (By the way, since when is it “surprising” that DiCaprio should evince as much range as Winslet? A minor quibble, but c’mon.)

→ 8 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

8 responses so far

  • 1 11-17-2008 at 4:53 pm

    NYLA said...

    Wow, that is quite a quote re: Michael Shannon.

  • 2 11-17-2008 at 4:55 pm

    KING351 said...

    The Hollywood Reporter’s review is much more negative…you have to search for it on the website because its not posted on the front of the web site yet.

    Anyway, do you think it could really get nominated for best picture? I noticed Kris has it in his number 5, perhaps indicating that it is not a guarantee nomination yet. What about Winslet and Dicaprio? Do youi think tjhey will DEFINATELY get nominated also, or its also not a guaranteed possibility?

  • 3 11-17-2008 at 4:56 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, not exactly surprising, though. Dynamic actor, terrific role. I think everyone’s been expecting him to knock it out the park. Good for him.

  • 4 11-17-2008 at 5:09 pm

    Joe said...

  • 5 11-17-2008 at 5:21 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Thanks for the tip, King. (I always struggle with that website.)

    I don’t really know what to make of Honeycutt’s review — it’s terribly glib and, dare I say it, a little spiteful.

    Until I see the film, I can’t really offer any more than lazy speculation on its Best Picture chances. But it sounds to me like it could register strongly with the actors’ branch (Winslet and Shannon sound like near-locks to me, and DiCaprio very likely, though he’s in a crowded field), and it seems set to score several craft nods. I think that kind of category coverage can often translate into a Best Pic nod.

  • 6 11-17-2008 at 6:03 pm

    Thugnificent said...

    I’m calling it..

    Heath Ledger vs. Michael Shannon throw down at the Oscars and throughout the whole awards season.

  • 7 11-18-2008 at 2:48 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    And The Dark Knight is victorious yet again…

  • 8 11-18-2008 at 12:00 pm

    zhiv said...

    McCarthy has definitely read the book, and gives the movie extra credit because of that, and sees more deeply into the characters and story.

    Honeycutt, I don’t think so. He’s wondering why, what makes it special.

    It’s going to be an interesting problem/situation. Readers of the book are going to look for how the film captures the despair of weak, lost people who believe they have good intentions but have trouble finding them and communicating. Non-readers will be wondering why this couple is arguing and staying together, what’s wrong with them, why do we want to see them. The whole thing is going to be complicated.