Saturday, June 20, 2009

My "Revolutionary Road"

This is part movie review, part attempt to share just a small tip of the iceberg of what God has been doing in my life lately. That part, in particular, will probably be spread out over several posts. I started to write about it recently and had to stop, because I was having a difficult time explaining. But I'll try, because it really is awesome, and it just shows how God truly "works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." (from Romans 8:28) Hopefully you can follow my efforts...

First- the review, or perhaps it's more of a synopsis and how it bares on my own life. Therefore, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW! "Revolutionary Road" came out recently on dvd, and it was the first pairing of Kate Winslet and Leo (I call him Leo) DiCaprio since they starred in "Titanic" together. The reason I was drawn to the film is how similar the themes sounded to themes I've experienced in my own life. It is about the Wheelers, a married couple in the 50's who move to the suburbs and are basically destroyed by the emptiness they come to associate with their mundane, typical lifestyle. As I watched previews for this movie, I strongly empathized with the idea of finding yourself suddenly living a life separate from the one you had envisioned. At one point, April, played by Winslet, says, "I saw a whole other future. I can't stop seeing it."

April is an aspiring actress when she meets her husband, Frank. Next thing you know, they are married and have two kids. They have moved to the suburbs to a place on Revolutionary Road, hence the name. They moved because that's what people do when they have kids, right? You can't raise kids in the city, right? They always thought of themselves as a special couple, who would do something big- something DIFFERENT- with their lives, and they have both become miserable in the life they have chosen. Frank soon starts an affair to try to fill the void.

Eventually, April gets it into her head that the solution to all their problems is for them to move with their children to Paris. This is where Frank said he had been the most alive, when he had been there before, and he always wanted to go back. April says she will work over there and he can take time to discover what he wants to do with his life- what will make him happy. Kate Winslet, as usual, delivers a stellar performance, as her desperation to escape the mundane is always just barely contained, keeping you dreading the moment when the plan will surely fall apart, not knowing what she might do when it does.

And, of course, it does. She discovers she is pregnant, and sees her unborn baby as an impediment to getting to what she thinks will really make her happy- moving to Paris. Meanwhile, Frank has been promoted and offered a lot more money, and his dedication to the move is already being tested. When he discovers his wife's condition and her desire to abort the baby, and sees her attitude of motherhood in general being a mistake for her, which apparently he had somehow missed all along, he is horrified and tells her the trip is off.

The rest of the movie is a devastating series of events which show the result of Frank's continuous deliberate self-delusion, and April's final acceptance of the fact that she is in a life she neither wants, nor can leave. She does leave, though, through the unholy act of killing her baby and herself in the process. I personally wanted to see them get to Paris with all their kids and live there for a while, only to find themselves in basically the same state of spiritual and emotional bankruptcy they had endured in the States. But, alas, the writer went in a different direction. It gets to the same point, though.

One of the interesting aspects of this film is that there seem to be no characters who find the answer to filling the "emptiness" and "hopelessness" which pervade their lives. One character- one of their neighbors who recently spent time in an asylum- is the only one besides the Wheelers who actually admits to the harsh reality of reality, but he can offer no solution. The rest simply find less drastic, but no more effective ways to deal with these feelings, which they cannot afford to admit to themselves.

An older couple on the block, in the final scene of the movie, sits together in their house speaking of the Wheelers. The wife, played by Kathy Bates, drones on about how they were never suitable to take that house to begin with, and so on and so on. Meanwhile, the husband looks at her and slowly turns down the volume on his hearing aid, until there is silence. And that ends "Revolutionary Road."

Uplifting, huh? Why, you might be asking yourself, would I want to engage my time in such a heavy, depressing movie? I'll get into that more in my follow-up post. But let me leave you for now with this question: What do you think is the solution for the real-life Wheelers out there? Because in one way or another, whether we live in Paris or Alaska or Los Angeles, whether we are incredibly poor or really rich, whether we cure a disease or homeschool our kids, we are all the Wheelers in one way or another, or at least we all start out that way.

To be continued...


  1. Hey, I started to leave a comment, but it got so long I just made a new post!

  2. Well, to me the answer is obvious! You can't find hope and peace and true love and beautiful adventure without Jesus. It may sound hokey if you don't believe, but it's so true. In God there's always a happily ever after. God never leaves you in pain. He takes you and shapes you and makes you into a better person, and he shows you the way to find peace and joy. No two people have exactly the same destiny, but it's always the right one for them. Because God created us, he knows what's best for us. Whenever I see a movie with a sad, hopeless ending, I always think how different things could have been if only they'd realized that God was the answer, and had turned their life over to God, believing and trusting and finding the way to a happier life.

  3. One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby, and some Christians think that's crazy.

    But I think I love it because it's the world admitting, "Hey, what we thought would make us happy didn't." And I like that honesty. Now for someone to give them the answer.