quiet desperation brought to you by Revolutionary Road

I just finished watching Revolutionary Road based on Richard Yates' award-winning novel, which I read for the first time over Spring Break this year. The novel is spectacular and tragic, in all the best ways. It's a lot like reading someone's diary, only more literary. So many more critics have lauded the novel and the film better than I could, but let me say that it's worth devoting some time to reading the book AND watching the film. They complement one another well. I remember hearing someone say if the novel is Frank's story, the film is April's, though others have suggested you watch the film twice: once through her eyes and once through his.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are beyond wonderful. There's such an intimacy in the film, that you really do feel as though you are witnessing something you shouldn't, particularly as the story is about a relationship as it falls apart. I know some have said the pacing feels off near the end and that the film doesn't measure up to the book, like hitting different notes, but I felt the film was profound in different ways from the book. I loved Mendes' shots where he focuses too closely, too long on expressions and faces. He makes you feel cramped and uncomfortable, the same way the Wheelers feel about their lives. It's brilliant.

Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation..." and the special features on the DVD ofRevolutionary Road talk about the "American Dream," the move to the suburbs was for some couples, represented by the Wheelers, a move toward such a life. But you should see the film yourself though I recommend reading the book first as the "texts" enrich one another in really interesting ways. If I were going to teaching a course involving themes like the American Dream or the 1950's, I would definitely teach this novel and film. In fact, I thought about proposing an IN 250 Immersion course on such themes. Proposals aren't due until June 30th so I have time to think this through a bit more.