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Monday, January 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon), Art Direction, and Costume Design, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Miller. Set in the 1950's, the film shows us how this couple moves their family to the Connecticut suburbs while Frank commutes to the city to do a job he dislikes. April, who wanted to be an actress, is unhappy as a housewife and mother. Frank, who was always a free spirit, had never really settled on what he wanted to be when he grew up and, thus, is also discontent. So they muddle through until April comes up with a wild idea to change the course of their destiny.

Despite the buzz and the Golden Globe wins, we found this movie to be pretty flat. The characters all seemed to be two-dimensional -- there were no real surprises in the choices they made or the actions they took. Each of them seemed to have only one tack and no real depth of character. Bruce described it as if they each represented a different point of view in an arguement and were constantly sounding off the other without having any sort of personal revelations or coming to any new conclusions.

There is some pretty nice cinematography to the film, and the costume design nod is probably well-deserved -- I remember remarking on several of the outfits after the movie, in fact. I had a major quibble with one editorial choice, however. There is a lengthy sequence where April is in focus while she is being yelled at by the supporting actor nominee, who is not in focus in the shot. This goes on for an incredibly long time. You're supposed to be paying attention to April's reaction, but she has no change in her facial expression throughout as she is trying to be stoic about everything. You're supposed to be uncomfortable because she's being put on the spot, but I spent the whole time going "are you going to rack the focus YET?" When they finally did shift the focus to Michael Shannon's character, whatever line of dialog was supposed to be important lost all its punch in the "finally! oh thank goodness!!" reaction to the shot change. Then, as if that weren't enough, as Michael Shannon finished his diatribe, rather than racking focus back to April to show her reaction, they suddenly cut to a head-on shot of her from another angle instead. Didn't like it at all, not the way I would have shot it, felt that it really took me out of the moment.

Also, not a film for our mothers! It's dark, intense, and uncomfortable. It's supposed to be that way, we just didn't think it did it as well as it could have.

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