2009 has only started and not only have we a potential contender for the title of “Most boring film of the year” but perhaps even a clear winner.
It all started when I arranged to meet Ms. Gaius at Cineworld and we had hoped to see Milk but I was sold out when I got there so we had to make a snap decision whether to see Revolutionary Road or The Wrestler. Mickey O’Rourke seemed too strong a medicine so we decided to give the former a chance.
There are a number of positives to the film. The performances by DiCaprio and Winslet are excellent. The cinematography is lovely and there are a few nuggets of black humour, mainly from Winslet’s fracturing housewife. The story is based around the fracturing home life of a couple suffocated by society’s expectations of them and their inability to understand one another or connect in any meaningful way. They hatch a half-baked plan to escape and it’s the slow dissolution of this plan that drives this film.
That’s the good news out of the way. What’s wrong with it then? Where to start…
The funereal pace will suck the willpower out of even the most determined cinema lover. I’m all for thoughtful, insightful dramas that build up but this film lurches from one contrived melodrama to another with lead characters that you don’t care a whit for. Whoever thought up and wrote the the screenplay should be forced to watch other films from the genre. Making the central couple suffer doesn’t mean that you need to extend this to the audience.
The acting of the supporting characters is a bit of a mixed bag. Michael Shannon is perfectly fine and reasonable value for his Oscar nomination and David Harbour works hard with his role as the brutish Shep Campbell but every time Kathy Bates walks in, you have to grit your teeth and convince yourself that the bad woman will go away if you pretend she’s not there. Kathryn Hahn as Milly Campbell wasn’t much better.
To give you an idea of how bad this was, I have never ever walked out of a cinema during a film. I’ve been tempted a few times. The last of those was Untamed Heart featuring Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei, which I ended up seeing after a mix-up at the ticket desk meant we had the choice of watching the film or getting our money back. We chose to watch it. Bad call. According to IMDB, that was released in 1993 so there have been sixteen walk-out sentiment-free years of movie watching. Revolutionary Road tested my willpower to the maximum. If it had gone on even one minute longer than it’s sloth-like one hundred and nineteen minutes, I would have fallen asleep in my chair. As it was, the credits started rolling and we were already halfway out the door.
This wasn’t just “a guy thing”. Ms. Gaius wasn’t impressed much either and we spent half the film laughing at the unintentionally funny bits. The depressing thing is that Revolutionary Road has received generally good reviews. I usually place a lot of store in Empire magazine but they gave this 4 stars, which proves that you really can’t trust them when there is a “British” angle to a film. Revolutionary Road is clearly made to win Oscars and such films are often terribly “worthy”, while having all the excitement of watching grass grow but this attempt misfires badly. It really is a terrible film and you shouldn’t part with your hard earned cash to confirm it for yourself.