Sunday, 17 October 2010

Scene On A Sunday: Revolutionary Road

Kate Winset has a very distinctive face. It’s not a shallow thing, she is beautiful, but she’s adept at expressing her feelings with her face, and the camera loves her. I’m a fan of her work in Revolutionary Road (evidence), as I am of DiCaprio’s (evidence) and even though it just might be one of the most harrowing portrayals of a marriage gone wrong it’s still fascinating to watch. My favourite scene in the film occurs towards the end, when everything has already begun to self-destruct. Frank and April’s impractical dreams of living as bohemians are given up – April’s pregnant and Frank is not as enthused about the move as he pretends to be. After John Givings turns up to put in some last minute lacerations in the already tenuous relationship it all comes to a close.

 I love that shot of Kate there. She’s been sitting with cigarette in her hand for the majority of  John’s tirade which has just ended. It’s almost painful to watch her expression, and it’s one of the beauty of watching Kate. She’s so good at emoting. But I love the next shot even more.
She moves from vulnerable to stoic in a matter of seconds, April may not be a good actress – but she’s an actress nonetheless.
Frank: “Okay, okay. Don’t tell me. Let me guess, I made a disgusting spectacle of myself, right?”
April: “Right.”
 Frank: “Everything that made said is true, right? Is that what you were gonna say?”
 April: “Apparently I don’t have to. You’re saying it for me.”
 Frank: “Well, you’re wrong, April.”
 April: “Really? Why am I wrong?”
The Wheeler couple are like a box of explosives. The slightest motivation and they start shooting sparks at each other. In the argument of consistency Kate outweighs DiCaprio but they’re both doing work that’s close to their best and they’re evenly matched throughout.

Frank: “Because the man is insane, he’s fucking insane. Do you know what the definition of insanity is? ”
April: “No! Do you?”
Frank: “Yes, it’s the inability to relate to another human being. It’s the inability to love.”
That immediate reaction of laughter from April is one of the scariest moments in the film. Though I wouldn’t call her crazy, she does a good job of pretending to be.

 I love how Kate plays it: it’s not so much real amusement as it is hysteria, and Frank is just there confused.
 Frank: “April, April. April! APRIL!”
April: “The ina – the inability, oh, oh. Oh, Frank: you really are a wonderful talker.”
And then her about face from superficial delight to the harsh coldness...

April: “If black could be made into white by talking, you’d be the man for the job! So, now I’m crazy because I don’t love you. Right, is that the point?”
The thing is, though Kate is getting the bulk of the lines here DiCaprio’s reactions are just as important. It’s one of the brilliance of Mendes direction. Whenever a quasi-monologue comes up he’s careful to gauge the other’s reaction.

Frank: “No, you’re wrong. You’re not crazy, and you do love me. That’s the point, April.”
Honestly, I’d never see DiCaprio as the kind of guy who could talk a bird off a tree but he manages to make himself believable as a potential seducer and as a pathetic man.

April: “But, I don’t. I hate you.”
There goes Kate again with that preciseness that’s not too technical. These few lines are more important for seeing Frank’s reaction, though it’s anyone’s guess if April really means them.

April: “You were just some boy who made me laugh at a part once, and now I loathe the sight of you.”
The emotions that he goes through there works, Frank might be weak and potentially despicable but April knows where to hit him the hardest. He really does love his family.
April: “In fact, if you come any closer; if you touch me or anything, I think I’ll scream.”
What a pair of lungs, you can’t hear...but it’s loud.
I know it’s wrong to find this amusing, but that mutinous look of satisfaction April gives when it’s over is scary and funny at the same time woman on the verge...
And then, Frank’s reaction to it...
And off they go, round 2 (or 200)
Frank: “FUCK YOU, APRIL. Fuck you, and all your hateful...”
April: “What are you gonna do now? Are you gonna hit me, to show me how much you love me?”

Frank: “Don’t worry, I can’t be bothered. You’re not worth the trouble it would take to hit you, you’re not worth the powder it would take to blow you up. You are an empty, empty, hollow shell of a woman.”
And now Frank has the floor and April’s reactions become important, a sort of a blance...of we can call it that. This particular of shot of DiCaprio is my favourite of his in the scene.
Frank is the sort of emotionally man who has trouble with his emotions. That makes this portion of the film so poignant.

Frank: “I mean: what the hell are you doing in my house if you hate me so much? Why the hell were you married to me? What the hell are you doing carrying my child? I mean, why didn’t you just get rid of it when you first had the chance? Because, listen to me – listen to me, I got news for you. I wish to God that you had!”
But in the end we must return to Kate’s face, just like at the beginning...
April’s so good at putting her defences up, those moments of vulnerability are a treasure.
And then she begins thinking, we can see the wheels moving in her head...
She’s got her plan right there. Why doesn’t she get rid of the baby? It's the expressions like that that make me remember April the most...just brilliant.


Ryan T. said...

I have severe case of ADD so I'm ashamed to admit that most of the times I go through your "scene" posts quickly. But this one, I read and pored over slowly. I *love* this scene.

Luke said...

Wow - though the movie was an intense downer, damn if it didn't have loads of killer scenes between these two! Great choice. I particularly like watching Kate's manipulative emotions throughout as Leo's just slowly fall apart. It's clear who has the unfortunate upper hand.

Danny King said...

This really makes me want to rewatch the film. I've seen it twice, but both viewings were during the film's theatrical release.

Stevee Taylor said...

Man...I think I'm going to have to watch this movie again. This is probably one of my most favourite Leonardo DiCaprio movies. Great performances, wondeful direction and such a heart breaking movie. Even though I disliked April, I cried my eyes out at the end.

Jose said...

I love April and want to kick Frank in the nuts!

Nicholas Prigge said...

Okay, you got me. I sort of put it down last week and now I have to rewatch it. Your scene breakdowns are always good work.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

ryan ha, okay. fine, as long as you liked this one.

luke YES. this is a downer, and i first saw this as a double feature with the reader. was i feeling suicidal? yes! and, yes, april definitely has the upperhand in this destructive duo.

danny it's worthy of a rewatch, but follow it up with something happy. for your sake.

stevee ha. this is my favourite leo performance too, which many people i've told find odd.

jose so you're just going to add to the already irrevocable damage done by april? harsh.

nicholas thanks, and i guess if i convinced you to rewatch then my work is done.

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