Unless a movie really blows me away and I love it, I need to time to think after sitting in a theater for 2 hours. Sometimes, the movie just needs to sink in a little bit before I realize that I actually enjoyed it.
Not this one. I actually tried to give it a little time, thinking maybe I’d like it more given the time to review it in my head … but nope, just wasn’t happening. Waiting outside the theater while my husband used the facilities, I smoked and listened to what people exiting the theater thought.
A couple came out, maybe in their 40’s and the woman said, “I liked it! Really good…” and he nodded and smiled at her.
Two girls came out, in their early 20’s, I’d guess, and one said to the other, “Well, if you didn’t like this, don’t bother watching American Beauty.”
Interesting - though they’re both directed by Sam Mendes, it’s apples and oranges and the only thing they have in common is being in the same basket.
We got in the car and my husband asked what I thought. “Eh…” was my initial response. Then I did what I usually do after a movie, held an opinionated conversation with myself about it. By the time I got home, I could simply say, “I didn’t like it.”
Know this: as far as “Dramas” go, I like to be moved. I like to have my ass dragged into that film and feel something. I want to get inside their head and know why they’re feeling the way they do. I want to give a damn about what happens to them, I want to be forced to care. It doesn’t have to have a happy ending for this to happen. Life isn’t always this way, and I can enjoy a miserable, depressing love story - as long as it touched upon something inside of me.
RR did nothing of the sort for me. I didn’t give a shit what happened to them at the end. I didn’t care how it turned out, whether they worked out their fucked up relationship or not, if they lived or died.
Everyone keeps talking about the “chemistry” between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, finally being brought back together after all these years to play Frank and April Wheeler. It just didn’t do it for me. The only chemistry I saw was in the fighting scenes, and I think that’s solely because they’re both incredible actors. They brought it full force for the fights, and it made for some pretty intense scenes. Unfortunately, as soon as the fighting ended and the crappy dialogue began, the magic was over. Their conversations seemed forced, unnatural (like Winslet, in particular, was reading from script), rather than a husband and wife having a conversation. Now, I’m well aware of the idea that this is because they were so unhappy and/or not in love. That‘s good, in theory…but it didn’t work well here. It was just not believable.
You were not made to understand, why Frank and April felt so trapped. Yes, they touched on it during one of their intense fights when she mentioned them having moved there because she was pregnant and then having another child to prove the first was not a “mistake”. But there was obviously a lot more going on in April’s head than we were made to understand. I know sometimes you’re supposed to fill in the blanks on your own, but again, it just did not work here.
There were actually a few good points to this film. One was the comic relief Michael Shannon provided. Some say he wasn’t meant to be funny because he was supposedly mentally ill. I question just how “ill” he was, being he was the only one who truly saw through the Wheelers façade. In the face of lies, the truth can be rather comical, I say.
Another good point: Leonardo DiCaprio was intense. He did his job, as far as I’m concerned. He acted his ass off, which in my opinion, he can’t not do. He’s an actor in the true sense of the word, he adapts to whatever role he plays - and you no longer see him but instead the character alone.
To wrap it all up, I didn’t like it. It was boring, there was no arc - no buildup, no significant climax. Even the climax wasn't climactic. It was fairly predictable. The fact that she was going to kill herself (whether intentional or by “accident”, if we can call it that) was obvious to me when she was standing by the neighbor’s tree, smoking and looking down at her own house. The calm she showed, along with the “nice” breakfast the next morning just secured that theory for me. It was a shallow storyline , at best, which I think is because there was way too much story to cram into a two hour movie.