Here’s an idea for a movie marathon: start with Sophie’s Choice, then Ironweed, then Revolutionary Road, then perhaps, for dessert, the final third of Requiem for a Dream. You would do the marathon to give thanks and praise to Hollywood for every so often easing up on the usual tripe and instead giving us utterly and relentlessly depressing movies. Aren’t we all just a little tired of empty catharsis, of the guy and gal making it work, of Hope™?
Revolutionary Road is the best movie ever to end with a botched abortion. (The abortion genre could be mined more, couldn’t it? We haven’t had a good abortion movie since Vera Drake. Personal favorite movie with abortion: Polyester. But this is a subject for another time.) That scene, Winslet staring out the living room window, her blouse matching the furniture, is so beautiful, so spare, and just so damn emblematic…it’s perfect. Director Sam Mendes also deserves praise for not hiding from but instead using sunlight and flowers and the green of summer to destroy the warm feelings usually engendered by such things. That the movie is essentially flat and eerily manipulative and perhaps even mechanical is besides the point: the people that put this together made a film for grown-ups where nothing good happens to anyone. And there isn’t enough of that anymore.