Death of the American Dream

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Revolutionary Road - Movie PosterREVOLUTIONARY ROAD has admirable qualities, but it is also a disappointment in many more ways than one.

Admirable, of course, is that it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, it was directed by Winslet’s husband, Sam Mendes, and it is based on the acclaimed 1961 novel by Richard Yates.

One of the disappointments is built into the story, which takes place in 1955 and is about what was known as “the American Dream.”

According to BREWER’S DICTIONARY OF PHRASE & FABLE, the American Dream is “a phrase epitomizing the democratic ideals and aspirations on which America had been founded, the American way of life at its best,” and back then that included a happy marriage, two children, a house in the suburbs, and a fulfilling job that is rewarding.

When the film opens, we see Frank and April meet at a party in New York City. Frank is a veteran of World War II, and April is studying to be an actress.

We skip ahead to when they are already married and April is appearing in a community-theater production with disappointing, humiliating results. Frank says to April, “Well, I guess it wasn’t exactly a triumph or anything, was it?”

On the way home, they get into an argument, Frank stops the car, he calls her “sick,” and she calls him “disgusting.”

Then we see a flashback to when they bought their house in Connecticut on Revolutionary Road.

Frank commutes to his boring job in New York City, and on his 30th birthday he does something that we hope is out of character.

April believes that Frank is the most interesting person she has ever met, and she tells him her idea that will change their lives forever. She wants to sell their house and everything else they have, move the family to Paris, and she will work to support the family while Frank will have all the time he needs to figure out what he wants to do.

Frank agrees, because their whole existence is that they are different from everyone else and that they are “special.”

However, they aren’t really special; they just think they are and have deluded themselves into believing that, especially when something happens at work that makes Frank get cold feet about Paris.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is the death of the American Dream with many false endings.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”