Tag Archives: “Revolutionary Road

Book vs. Movie: REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

I saw "Revolutionary Road" – movie version – tonight. Here's my take on book vs. movie.

RR First, I wonder if I was crippled by having JUST read the book. I felt as if I were watching a play, one whose script I knew by heart. This made the movie seem more like a performance than a believable world that pulled me in. The movie is pretty faithful to the book. There are some plot points in the book that don't make it into the movie, and a few details are changed in the movie. Some of these changes make sense - of course the book had to be streamlined to turn it into a two-hour movie. Some of the changes make less sense, but I don't want to get into them here for fear of spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it.

Like the book, the movie is not uplifting. And like the book, some of the fights between April and Frank Wheeler are not convincing or well-explored. Why is she so angry at him at the end? Does she honestly believe that she doesn't love him? Have all of her prior kindnesses toward him been purely calculated to get her where she wants to go? The movie is even more spare than the book, and offers less explanation for why April is who she is.

I will say this for the movie – visually, I got a better sense of why April and Frank's world was so inflexible and suffocating than I did reading the novel. I know I wrote in my review that I didn't think Revolutionary Road the novel was necessarily successful as a statement about the 50s. The movie, however, changed my mind a bit. April's unhappiness – her restlessness – made a lot more sense after seeing the movie and understanding how she lived.

All in all, I didn't love either the movie or the book. But I definitely found reading the book to be more satisfying and ultimately more enjoyable than watching the movie. So… Advantage: Book.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates

Revroad200 I wanted to read Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates, before I saw the movie, which came out last week. It had been on my TBR list for a long time, and the holiday release of the highly anticipated movie, starring a reunited Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, was good incentive for me to pick it up.

Revolutionary Road is about a young couple – April and Frank Wheeler – living in the New York suburbs in the 50s. Frank works for a business machine company, the same one his father worked for many years ago. April is a frustrated housewife with two small kids who finds living in the suburbs imprisoning and unfulfilling. Frank and April married young, and had kids earlier than they expected.  The book is about their unhappy marriage, and their increasing inability to communicate and satisfy each other. Frank and April seem incapable of connecting with each other unless they are belittling the suburban society that surrounds them, filled with office drones, pastel cookie-cutter homes, and women without ambition.

Yates is a precise, compelling writer, and despite the book's age (55 years) the narration felt fresh and current. I have to say, however, that I didn't love it. I know it is supposed to be a period piece, a statement about the 50s in America and the perils of conformity and materialism.  However, I found the book to be less universal than that. I read it as a sad story about two people whose marriage takes a few very tragic turns. April, especially, is a deeply troubled woman with issues that extend beyond Frank to her horrible parents and childhood. To me, this book was about the disintegration of a relationship. Perhaps the book was revolutionary at the time it was published, and its commentary about the lives of young, middle-class suburban Americans was jarring and new. Now, however, there have been so many expressions of rebellion against the 50s that this book seemed less powerful to me.

I am curious to see the movie, to see how faithful the script remains to the novel, and how Leo and Kate interpret these unhappy spouses. I am glad I read Revolutionary Road, and certainly found it hard to put down. But I didn't love it.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates

I read in IMDB’s daily news report that Titanic co-stars Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio will reunite in a movie adaptation of Richard Yates’ 1950s novel Revolutionary Road. I hadn’t heard of this book before, so I did a little research.

Revolutionary Road is one of Time magazine’s Top 100 novels of all time.  Here’s how Time describes it:

YatesWe think of Updike and Cheever as the masters of postwar American suburbia, of its sunlit euphorias and its drunken discontents. Add Yates to the master list, just subtract the euphorias. His great novel is a bitterly funny and bitterly unfunny account of lethal disappointment in the Connecticut suburbs in 1955. When they were single and in love, Frank and April Wheeler thought of themselves as different—smarter, hipper, more alive. Then comes marriage and the steamroller of daily existence—his job for a big company, her wife-and-motherhood. The rewards of the material life seem like small compensation for the daily blows to the ego, which eventually detonate their lives. This may sound like a common predicament, but Yates gives it uncommon force. Though none of his six other novels enjoys the enduring prestige of this one, it doesn’t matter. If Revolutionary Road doesn’t make him an immortal, immortality isn’t worth having.

On Wikipedia, I found this statement from RIchard Yates:

I think I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. Because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs — a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price, as exemplified politically in the Eisenhower administration and the Joe McCarthy witchhunts. Anyway, a great many Americans were deeply disturbed by all that — felt it to be an outright betrayal of our best and bravest revolutionary spirit — and that was the spirit I tried to embody in the character of April Wheeler. I meant the title to suggest that the revolutionary road of 1776 had come to something very much like a dead end in the Fifties.

Kristen over at Books for Breakfast read Revolutionary Road earlier this month as part of her goal to read the Time Top 100, and here’s what she had to say:

Happy suburbanites Frank and April Wheeler pretend to buck conformity and plan on leaving their 1950s life of safety and security for an unknown adventure in Paris. Or Europe. Someplace. Just anywhere but there, where lawns must be mowed perfectly and friends dance with each other’s wives.

Not. Gonna. Happen. Of course. Or there would be no point to this tale.

Though there are some similarities to An American Tragedy, this book is much cleaner, its language like vodka instead of moonshine.

But this isn’t a challenged/banned book? Whuut? I am confused by the definition, then, of what is needed to be considered a challenged/banned book.

Lovely work, amazing imagery. It’s the first one I’ve truly liked in a while, and that feels good.

Now I want to read this book. Before the movie comes out.