Say You Want It

This high-def version of the new trailer for Sam MendesRevolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage, 12.26) tells you pretty much what the film is without the particulars or the last two beats. Miserable, lost and sinking in surburbia. Richard Yates, John Cheever, John Updike, etc.

I understand the whole flight-to-the-suburbs mentality of the ’50s as well as the female nesting instinct, but why would Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Frank Wheeler, a guy who says he loves Paris because “the people are alive there…unlike here,” want to buy a house in Cheever Land in the first place? Is he a man or a mouse? He’s supposed to be about…what, 30 and he doesn’t know what kind of life he wants? If you don’t have a pretty good idea of who you are and what you want by 24 or 25, you’ll probably never know. And if you haven’t made your big “this is who I am, take it or leave it” move by the time you’re 30, you might as well move to Mexico and drink tequila.

30 thoughts on “Say You Want It

  1. Wells — are you watching Mad Men? If not, pleeeease get the first season on DVD and catch up with the second season on AMC HD On-demand.

  2. Well…by this logic, I should move to Mexico and give up. Plus, I’ll probably never know who I am or what I want.
    The sad thing is that your generalization is probably absolutely correct in my case.
    That said, it doesn’t mean Frank Wheeler is an unrealistic character. Far from it. The vibe I get from the story is that’s the whole point. Dreams are deferred, years are wasted, important things are left unspoken, the path of least resistance is followed by default, etc. This sort of malaise seems a pretty common malady to differing degrees in most people’s lives.
    Now, whether you sympathize with it thus making for a compelling, relatable film…that’s a different question.

  3. “That said, it doesn’t mean Frank Wheeler is an unrealistic character. Far from it. The vibe I get from the story is that’s the whole point. Dreams are deferred, years are wasted, important things are left unspoken, the path of least resistance is followed by default, etc. This sort of malaise seems a pretty common malady to differing degrees in most people’s lives.”
    That’s fine, but we’ve seen this same story at least 5,000 times! I’m sick of it. The repressed 50′s cliche. Enough already! I’m officially against this film. My dislike for Leo grows each year as he ruins film after film with his “trying to act like an adult” thing. I’m sure Winslet will be fine, but that dialogue she was forced to deliver in the trailer was simply embarrassing. I’m sure Chrismas audiences will be rushing out to see this.

  4. What looks funny about it, Mr. Hickenlooper?
    And I am SO sick of the whole “Leo needs to stop pretending to play adults” bull shit. The guy is one of the most charismatic actors out there. He immediately elevates every movie he stars in. I am tired of hearing people bash him. If he didn’t have any talent I wouldn’t care.

  5. Yeah, if overwrought drama is your idea of comedy.
    That being said, I’ll see it. I like the leads and Mendes is a solid director.

  6. In the book, Frank is described as a man who is filled with potential, but has yet to harness it in any particular way. I think he’s searching, trying every available avenue to find happiness.
    MILD SPOILER
    There is a heartbreaking segment in the book where he and April (Kate Winslet’s character) think they might be happy if April joins a new start up theater company, in a hope to make their “Cheever Land” feel like the city. Their thinking is: if we have a local theater, maybe we’ll have a better sense of community. And obviously, just like most local theater productions, it doesn’t go well. My question about the movie is, how will they get the introspection that Richard Yates infused into the book into the dialogue? His viewpoint is what really makes it a masterpiece.
    END OF MILD SPOILER
    What I love about the book is that focuses on two characters that have fallen through the cracks. They haven’t found what they want at 24 or 25 — that frantic search to stitch together all the pieces they have in their life into something they can be proud and happy of — is in fact the heart of the movie.
    It ain’t “Iron Man,” but the NPR crowd will love it.

  7. It’ll end up like every other Mendes film. The critics will rave, and I’ll sit there while the credits roll with a big “WTF?” thought bubble over my head.

  8. I like Mandes, thought that Road To Perdition was brilliant and criminally underrated. I also like Leo as an actor (even if he tend to overact at times) and KW is really one of the best actresses of her generation. And yet, this trailer does nothing to me.

  9. Many young men were brought up to believe that they had to have a career and marry and have a family. For some that dream looked ideal. Marrying a lovely young woman, having a job that held potential and then realize, is this really what life is all about? What is important in life? Marriage, a career? What about following your hear, your dreams? This is one of the stories of modern life.

  10. “And if you haven’t made your big “this is who I am, take it or leave it” move by the time you’re 30, you might as well move to Mexico and drink tequila.”
    My God, Wells, haven’t you seen Beverly Hills Chihuahua? Mexico is a SCARY place.

  11. This is sort of tangential, but I am tired of the Follow Your Dreams ethos in movies. If everyone followed their dreams the world would be full of poets, guitarists, basketball players, and so on. I think few people dream of being accountants or middle managers or farm equipment repairment or janitors, yet those jobs are needed for the society we live in to keep grinding along.
    I guess you can amend it to Follow Your Dreams For A While But If You Aren’t Good Enough To Make A Buck Off Your Dreams, Have A Decent Plan B. Or, Follow Your Dreams — In Your Spare Time. Then it’s more sensible.
    Of course, that makes for a less inspiring story than the rat who Just Knows he’d be a great chef or the trailer park teenager who Just Knows he’d be a great Starfighter or whatever. We like to see stories about the winners, not the losers. Oh well.

  12. >Well…by this logic, I should move to Mexico and give up. Plus, I’ll probably never know who I am or what I want.
    I knew what I wanted at 20, but failed to achieve it. Now at 33 I am trying to adjust my expectations based on a deeper knowledge of what I’m capable of. I guess I’ll figure everything out at 75 or so, then keel over dead.

  13. Maybe the film would be better if you just imagine that this sort of dissatisfactoin is what would have happened to Jack and Rose if he had survived the Titanic. Sure, you disappoint all those romantics who fell in love with the movie, but I’d be amused.

  14. bluefugue>> We’re the same age of failure. :- )
    I doubt I’ll make it to 75, though. I’m in horrible shape and my diet is crap.

  15. The only problem i have with the footage is DiCaprio.He has got talent and i’m warming to him as a performer but he don’t look much different to how he did in “This Boys Life”,he just looks like a kid wearing adult clothes and its jarring.
    I think Massey will probably end up being correct,it’ll be a film thats hyped through its oscar push but most people will probably shrug their shoulders and think “is that it?” or they will in a couple of years time.
    The whole mid-life crisis during your twenties is very strong in todays society,we just get diagnosed as depressed instead and prescribed with diazepam,so my “friends” tell me anyway?

  16. This is a great book – I have had doubts as to whether it would make a good movie . . . but i like the trailer quite a bit.
    What’s wrong with chronicling diminished expectations? What’s wrong with exploring the common tragedy of settling for less, and ending up with less than you thought you were settling for?
    Isn’t adult life one big compromise?
    Not to rally around a film I haven’t seen – perhaps the execution is off. But there is nothing illegitimate about the premise.

  17. I’m just finishing reading the novel right now, but I’m curious about how well it will translate to film. It will be interesting…

  18. “Many young men were brought up to believe that they had to have a career and marry and have a family. For some that dream looked ideal. Marrying a lovely young woman, having a job that held potential and then realize, is this really what life is all about? What is important in life? Marriage, a career? What about following your hear, your dreams? This is one of the stories of modern life.”
    I’m not questioning that. However, we’ve seen this 10,000 time before and it’s always THE SAME THING. I can’t take it anymore. Plus, why do the characters always have to SAY what they feel in a far too on-the-nose way? “Mad Men” certainly kicks this film into the trash can. Let the audience decide for themselves. All that talk by Winslet in the trailer is just awful, audience pandering dialogue. Oh, I’ll attack Leo for not being able to play an adult all I want to!!!!!!!!!

  19. Nothing like spending $20 plus the price of popcorn to depress your wife on date night…. I want to spend a night watching people who feel cheated by the suburban dream, I’ll just hang out at the Target.

  20. Maybe stories about crumbling marriages will prove to be the one type of movie Mendes does really well. I loved this book and am definitely curious.

  21. Yeah, if overwrought drama is your idea of comedy.

    That being said, I’ll see it. I like the leads and Mendes is a solid director.

  22. DiCaprio is a great character actor, but his voice still sounds too adolescent to be convincing as a 30+ leading man. Also, his nervous eyebrow gymnastics in THE DEPARTED belied his character’s cover, making me wonder why Nicholson didn’t plug him each time he looked in the rear-view mirror.

  23. Is Frank Wheeler a man or a mouse? That’s the whole point. He’s a pretender. Unable to get beyond pretension and sliding along, he’s just lost. His wife is even more frustrated but she’s also frustrated with him. After all, she somehow expected things to work out differently and never wanted children in the first place. Women who dreamed of something more exciting and real were too often tied down by their men and/or children. No decent birth control, no legal abortion. That’s it….in a nutshell. The quintesential story of the ’50s, a time when Americans were migrating to the suburbs by the millions and where conformity, smugness, and keeping up with the Jones’s got to be all the rage but also became THE NIGHTMARE. It would take the excesses of the late ’60s to cut the next generation loose. Revolutionary Road is the best book I know of about the souring of the mid-twentieth century American dream and it’s full of intimations about where the country is headed, not just emotionally but technologically.

  24. This is a very interesting perspective, however I think judging someone’s ability to do a job solely based upon their handwriting is a little unfair. I know my handwriting changes depending on what I am writing. I also think the fact that pretty much nothing is written by hand today; from a college to an email, that this can affect people’s handwriting for the worse.
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