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Summary: A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
Nearly over-the-top in how dramatic the characters are, but the film kept my attention the whole time, made me care about everyone on screen, and left me like no other film ever has: With a big pit in my stomach. It takes a special film to be able to do that.
Beautiful cinematography and great performances can't save storytelling that renders the film pointless. With the film being overly discreet with their past and consisting almost completely of stagey arguing with little elaboration, I couldn't care for the main characters at all and got very bored during the final third. BTW, my parents are going through a divorce currently, and from my experiences, if you want a more thought-provoking and resonant film, try The Squid and The Whale.
Sure, you've seen it all before, but the outstanding acting from Shannon (who nearly steals the movie in his 3 short scenes), DiCaprio and specially Kate Winslet, besides the polished production values, result in a handsome, entertaining and engaging film.
Mendes returns to dysfunctional suburbia without the humour and ingenuity of 'American Beauty'. The characters are at fault: She's too likeable and he's basically an asshole. Enter Shannon in a show stealing performance, in which he dissects the couple the way a kid with ADHD and a hammer might perform heart surgery on a kitten. The film finally runs out of quiet desperation and opts for all out tragedy, only to become the textbook definition of heavy-handedness.
It's a good film, no doubt about it and with a great score by the way, but I think it's only the mainactors that make an alright story a good film in this case. I mean the cinematography by Deakins is as good as always but Di Caprio and especially Winslet are the real reason that make this film worth watching.
Why don't more people adore this movie? Two intellectuals in seemingly mundane situations going through a profound existential crisis. What's not to love? Winslet should have won her Academy Award for this, not The Reader.
Overly dramatic, which distances us from the characters. The same types of difficult choices and differences of opinion that are depicted in the film do arise in almost every relationship at some point or another, but rarely would I expect anyone to behave as extremely as Mendes would have us believe. The idea was to capture the trapped feeling that suburban life can cause, which can be powerful, but rather than melancholy or honest reflection we get irrational rage and disdain. Poor choice.
Okay, perhaps American Beauty said it more seductively, creatively, and with a bit of humour/darkness mixed in. But I still have great appreciation for every moment of bleak fifties reality (that still exists today for many) thrown in this one. Sometimes people have to scream to be heard-- still lands on many a deaf ear either way.