Revolutionary Road Parable
Posted on November 19, 2009
A comfortable viewing experience Revolutionary Road is not. Though set in the 1950s, the skewering of romantic delusions is just as awkward and painful as if it happened right now.
A young couple (Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet) are brought together by their dissatisfaction with the American dream. They marry and plan to move to France, an exciting plan they share with their jealous friends. The plot consists of this plan painfully unravelling, unmasking their true desires.
Revolutionary Road is parabolic. In Jesus’ parables, we are sucked into the world of the story, which is then given a twist that shakes us into a new way of seeing reality. The classic in this tradition is the Good Samaritan. The wounded traveller is passed by the priest and levite, whose distancing reaction to a possibly dead (and therefore unclean) body in totally understandable within Jewish culture. The listeners are lulled into the story, waiting for the 3rd person to come along, who will provide a punchline – and the punchline is a Samaritan, the epitome of uncleanness.
In the same way, we dream with the couple of Revolutionary Road, encouraged that they are breaking from the stifles of hack job, domestic trivia and superficial relationships. I found myself (perhaps naively) willing them on as they bought the tickets and prepared to fly. And I found myself experiencing the same heartbreak as their plans fall apart, mainly due to the husband’s bluster which hides an insecure man.
He is the villain of the piece, as he inspires his wife with dreams of a heaven outside their current drudgery, and then refuses to follow through. The film is a tragedy, and the last few scenes are painful in their inevitability.