Monday, October 6, 2008

Revolutionary Road

A lot has been written, and said about marriage. Visit a drugstore and you would find that every single magazine at least has an article generously sharing the secrets of marital bliss.

A couple of years ago, Time magazine published a list of 100 best novels of the 20th century. That summer my goal was to read as many books as I can from that list. Not because I am a conformist or a sad lonely nerd, okay maybe the latter, but it was sheer curiosity that got me working towards that still unfulfilled goal. The list contained some well-known books, some of which I had read or heard of before, but also had some lesser-known novels, including Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

The book showed a rather realistic, if not morbid aspect of marriage. In the book, April Wheeler was initially drawn to her Columbia educated husband Frank Wheeler, because of his worldly knowledge, and WWII European travel experience, he serenaded her with. These young lovers had dreams and aspirations, which made them feel different from their counterparts and elders. But soon, April got pregnant with their first child, and they found themselves settling into the sub-urban picket fenced lifestyle. The mystery, dreams, and sense of endearment that brought them together, slipped away with the passage of time, as April's life became about cooking, cleaning, and looking after her family, and Frank was stuck working, in Manhattan, at a job that he despised, but stuck it out because he had the responsibility to provide for his family.

I often joke with my friends that this is the book I am gonna give to the guy as a wedding present, so he is aware of the bleak side of marriage. I know, this might be a bad idea, because this book is hardly romantic, but I believe people should go into marriage with the knowledge that taking the relationship to the ultimate big step requires both responsibility and maturity.

Last year, I found out that they were turning this book into a movie. I wasn't too thrilled about the news, as they almost always fail to do justice to the original characters and the story. But my reservations were somewhat reassured when I discovered Sam Mendes, who directed American Beauty, is directing the movie, and it will have Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing the leads. I thought Kate Winslet did an excellent job in the film adaptation of Little Children. And well Leo is just Leo. He is not just a pretty face, but also an environmentalist - *gasping for air* (so I am not totally shallow).

The trailer looks very promising, and the movie comes out in December. I hear that they are advertising it is as Titanic's sequel, which is not a fair assessment at all. Be sure to read the book before you go watch the movie.


Josh said...

That looks really good and I love Nina Simone (on the soundtrack), I'll be sure to catch it when it's out.

Thanks for recommendation.

Zany said...

No, thank you :). I was wondering about the song, didn't know it was by Nina Simone.

Josh said...

Any time, the song is "Wild is the Wind".

changetheworld360 said...

Great analysis! Unlike you, I read the novel soon after I heard about the film adaptation. It was extremely thought-provoking and haunting, and I remember thinking it would be hard to adapt into a film due to the complexity of it all. In addition, I read quite a few articles where big fans of the book expressed skepticism regarding the film adaptation. They have every right to say that, but personally, I think this film will be excellent, judging from the creative team behind it as well as the great trailer.
As far as the marketing is concerned, I've noticed it's mostly the superficial entertainment news programs that act like this is a "sequel" to Titanic. I think most serious film fans, critics, and executives in charge of promoting it are wise enough to know that this is anything but. (I hope!) And you're right: people should definitely read the novel before they see the film to get a better sense of the deep nuances of the plot and characters.
It's nice to know I'm not the only one who likes Leo DiCaprio for more than his looks. ;) I mean, he is pretty attractive, but he's also a phenomenal actor and uber-committed environmentalist.

Zany said...

Thank you for the song title. I absolutely love it.

I agree, I have faith in Sam Mendes, and he couldn't have picked a better cast.

Some uber nerdy trivial facts about Leo for you, which you probably already know :-). He drives a hybrid. Doesn't drink bottled water. And at the premiere of Blood Diamond, advocated for fair-trade diamonds.

I remember reading somewhere that what makes Titanic an eternal love story is the fact that we know it is the demise of the ship that makes their love so timeless. We know their love didn't stand a chance to exist in the real world. Jack's death made their encounter all the more special and eternal.