Sunday, 1 February 2009

NOT: Revolutionary Road, Coronet Cinema, 103 Notting Hill Gate W11 3LB

As the snows from Russia blew into London, Screen 1 at the Coronet cinema experienced an unfortunately timed heating malfunction which meant that it was holding steady at 15 degrees. They offered a free hot drink and you could ask for a refund within 30 minutes of the start if it got too cold, so Jane and I took our chances. It's the only time I've sat in a cinema clutching a peppermint tea and wearing four layers of clothing plus gloves (don't worry, I took off my wide-brimmed hat).

It's an old chestnut, but Revolutionary Road the movie really wasn't as good as the book. Of course everything had to be truncated into a 2 hour film, but as a result much of the nuance and motivations which made the book so special had to be cut out. This left April and Frank Wheeler as unlikeable, self-indulgent hysterics who spent a lot of time screaming at each other. Kate Winslet, or more precisely, Kate Winslet's eyes, did make the most of her role but Leonardo di Caprio was seriously miscast - he just never looked like someone's husband.

If you haven't read the book, please don't be put off by this film. The book is all the things the film is not. Richard Yates' prose describes emotions, connections and missed opportunities in gossamer detail, delves deeply into the frustrations and delusions of a couple who desperately wish to be different but can do nothing but conform, and is so evocative of a time, place and sensibility, without feeling or sounding dated.

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