I rented Revolutionary Road, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, based on the novel of the same name by Richard Yates. DiCaprio and Winslet play Frank and April Wheeler, a suburbanite couple in their early thirties. The opening scene shows April trying to perform in a local play; The Petrified Forest. If you know anything about this 1930's drama, you'll recognize the irony immediately. Both Revolutionary Road and The Petrified Forest have lead males who's characters
lives are dull and stagnant.
I had to pick a time that I was truly ready to view this movie, from the trailers I sensed an ultimate premonition of no blissful ending. Please don't read this if you intend on viewing the movie, because I intend to fully disclose what happens.
After the failed performance by April, she and Frank drive home and she pierces Frank's heart with these words, "How can you say that you're even a man?" Previously, I blogged about men just not being men, conformed to a societal capitalistic society they live out a dreary married existence because that's what's expected. Usually this mundane life leads to infidelity, alcoholism or other such vices and eventually divorce.
What most people don't realize, is the sedentary meaningless lifestyle causes the woman's spirit to perish, as well; maybe not all women, but the one's with half a brain. It's apparent that both April and Frank need something, but they're unable to communicate, to get back where they started. After the you're not a man comment, Frank does have an affair, to feel like a man. April, on the other hand, tries to figure out how she and Frank can survive and live once again. She approaches Frank with the idea of selling the house, taking their savings and the kids and transplanting themselves in Paris. At first, Frank is stunned, then gradually he comes around to the idea and agrees. After the decision is made, Frank and April make love (I'll have to note that the love making was dismal, I really thought after the exhilaration of the decision that there would have been ecstasy on screen)
Frank with his renewed spirit, treats work like a hobby. He makes outlandish suggestions, glosses over his work, but in the apathy, he catches the eye of upper management and they offer him a promotion, with more money and this is where we see the escape plan begin to unravel. The trap is sprung and Frank, lured by power and promises of lucrative deals, no longer wants to escape. It was at this point in the movie, I already knew how it was going to end.
Luckily for Frank, April ends up pregnant. He uses that as an excuse to not go to Paris. April suggests an abortion, Frank is livid. The antagonist in the movie is John, a mathematician who has suffered a nervous break down. John speaks only truth. Everyone around him are busy saying they're sorry, playing house and getting the life sucked out of them.
At the moment that Frank decides they're not going to Paris, April's spirit has perished. Once the spirit dies, the body is not long after. She represses the grief, becomes silent, falls into the mundane routine of life. Hopelessness abounds, but you're looking at her wondering why can't she just be happy. The stark reality is that April knows Frank will never truly be happy or fulfilled at his job. You might not think this is a big deal, but it is. A wife can only be fully joyous, if her husband is completely satisfied.
Frank tries to talk to her, but April doesn't want to talk anymore. She's just going to play house, sit back and let life go by without her. Oh, sure, she'll make dinner, tend to the kids, clean house, but she'll no longer be her husband's best friend. She knows that she will never be able to fully connect with him again. Frank pushes the envelope, he wants to fix what's wrong with her, but it can no longer be fixed. The moment the dream was taken away, the escape route foiled, April had to stifle every feeling. She had a momentary lapse, but was able to get away by herself.
She stood in the stark woods, minuscule against the trees, eyes blank, total despair. How does she cope with this? You let go, you no longer feel anything, you pretend everything is fine, smile and be polite, say thank you, fold the clothes, make breakfast...you become emotionally detached.
Why did Frank do it? Frank felt comfy in the old familiar hopeless emptiness. He felt safe hiding behind his wife's maternity dress, that way he'd never have to find out what he's really made of.
Total chaos ensued, followed with I don't love you, I loathe the sight of you. Pure rage and anger for each other illustrated. The words are out there and they can never be forgotten. But, she'll pretend that nothing happened the next morning. She'll wake early and fix him his morning coffee, smile politely and repress the emotions, angst and pain. He'll wonder how everything was fixed. He'll go to work not suspecting a thing.
See, the spirit died, and as always the body is not long after. Frank had a chance to save her, to save himself, to save them, but he was unwilling to take that risk. April was more than adequate to do what needed to be done, she needed to glow in Frank's fulfillment and happiness, that's what a help mate truly is.