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Revolutionary Road March 9, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Every now and then we always love asking ourselves that dreaded question “Is this what I really want to do my whole life?”. Especially if your work involves sitting behind a desk then this pesky question troubles you all the more often. Well, as everyone also knows the answer to that question doesn’t quite amount to the inspirational stories of a few select who “find their calling” in life nor to those people who actually believe/delude themselves that what they currently do is actually what they love to do. And then there are those who don’t give a damn about their “true calling” and steer through life as circumstances warrant.

Revolutionary Road is about a couple who end up epotimizing what can horribly go wrong when each of those answers are adopted at the wrong moment. Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet) seem to have reached a dead end once they move into the suburbs on the arrival of their first baby. Frank is constantly coplaining about his job, posing himself the same question mentioned above while April has nothing to look forward to in her new setting. As a panacea to both their problems, she comes up with the idea of giving everything up and moving to Paris (the place where Frank always wanted to go) and let Frank figure out what he ultimately wants to do while she finds a secretarial job. This rosy plan seems obviously impractical to everyone around except for the “lunatic Ph.D” guy who lauds them for having the guts to rise above their humdrum suburban existence. Frank and April seem to be ready to carry out their plan against all odds when something happens which calls into question everything which led them to this decision in the first place.

If you actually stepped into the movie after a considerable amount of time it would appear to you that Revolutionary Road is just a well made drama about marital discord and that is what you’ve probably heard about the movie too. But this film is much more than that. Although the setting seems to be somewhere in postwar fifties the problem it deals with is more relevant than ever today. The whole essence of the film is beautifully captured in its tagline – “How can you break free without breaking apart?” Frank and April’s answer to that question is well – disturbing to say the least.

The events on screen might seem a bit too theatrical but the powerhouse performances of DiCaprio and Winslet overwhelm everything else so absolutely that you can actually feel the whole thing happen right in front of you. Thomas Newman’s score makes it all the more haunting. Revolutionary Road is yet another amazing offering from Sam Mendes. Apart from being wonderfully unsettling, it is the only movie in a long time which actually made me think. Even if nothing of this excites you, still watch Revolutionary Road because it’s still one heck of a gripping drama even if you strip away the intellectual baggage.

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The Nanny Diaries April 12, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Based on a novel of the same name by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, this film is an inert comedy cum drama. Annie is a college graduate who is unable to decide on her future when she is accidentally hired as a nanny by Mrs X. The X family is a stereotypically dysfunctional upper class family and the film depicts Annie’s learning experiences even as she teaches them a thing or two.

Writer-director duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor) don’t have material compelling enough for a winning motion picture. Between the stock characters, spiritless romance, soporific drama and mildly appealing satire, this film falls flat.

It is a shame because two actors do impress. Laura Linney (The Savages, Love Actually, Mystic River) gets the best part as Mrs X and she shines. Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water, Sideways) also has fun as Mr X. The same cannot be said of Scarlett Johannson (The Prestige, Lost in Translation) who once again okays a film that doesn’t give her a chance to sparkle.

When the promotional material showed Johannson with an umbrella, one had hoped that this film might be in the Mary Poppins genre. It is anything but and the references to that film were unwanted and unwelcome.

Neither funny nor insightful, this decidedly uneventful film is avoidable.

Gone Baby Gone October 18, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a crime thriller with a conscience. Set in Boston, the film revolves around the abduction of a four year old girl. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck), a detective who finds lost children along with his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monahan), is brought into the case to help the police due to his knowledge of the people in the area. Police chief Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) is not impressed but instructs his senior detectives, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton) to cooperate. As the investigation progresses, the team find some leads but something goes very wrong bringing the case to an abrupt end. However, Kenzie becomes emotionally attached and he investigates further to uncover the truth behind what went wrong.

The screenplay (by Affleck, who co-wrote Good Will Hunting, and Aaron Stockard) is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River). Affleck does a splendid job in writing and directing this film. He creates the right mood to feel the characters and the neighborhood. The dialogue is superb, especially in the first half of the film. Just when you think this could be a simple thriller, it kicks you out of your comfort zone. The rest of the film changes tracks to a brooding moralistic drama. Affleck directs this smartly and manages to keep you guessing as the motives of each of the characters unfold.

This film is well cast and provides the scope for multiple actors to shine. Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Ocean’s Thirteen), who is also winning over critics with his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is impressive as Patrick Kenzie. His brother’s faith in him is not misplaced. Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris are good as usual, with Harris getting the better part. Amy Ryan, playing the alcoholic mother of the kidnapped child, is very effective. Michelle Monahan is adequate but she doesn’t get the scope to impress.

The film has its share of twists to keep you engrossed but this is not the fast-paced popcorn thriller. It has a heart and a mind as well. Watch this if you are looking for an intelligent thriller that leaves you thinking. I was still wondering about the climax, its implications and what was right/wrong when I left the theater and I am sure many will have the same experience.