The world order has been restored: Revolutionary Road (the book) is better than Revolutionary Road (the movie), even if one distinctly does not involve Leonardo Di Caprio. The novel, published in 1961, was Richard Yates' first and was nominated for some fancy award (the National Book Award).

Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) got a job in a large "corporation" with the expressed goal of doing as little as possible when his girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife got pregnant. And, he does do as little as possible while complaining/entertaining his friends with long monologues on how "decadent" society (mainly, the suburbs) has become:

"It's as if everybody made this tactic agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have tons of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality - Daddy's a great man because he makes a great living; Mummy's a great woman because she stuck by Daddy all these years -

The movie portrays Frank in a less-than-flattering light: he skips an afternoon of work to start an affair with a secretary and he talks down to his wife when a new community theatre production falls flat. But we really discover in the book that he either doesn't know or just doesn't share his true feelings -- he mentally struggled with what to say to his wife when he knew she was upset about the play, so he blurted something out and then felt bad about it.

He doesn't mind his life as much as he makes it seem, and he's too terrified to actually make any major changes.

Meanwhile, his wife, April (Kate Winslet) just went with the flow as they married, had two children and moved to the suburbs. She's not happy but bought into the belief that they were somehow special: All the other suburbanites were happy to live half-lives while she and Frank were different, better. It's a myth that Frank perpetuates and that his wife seems to believe, despite yelling horrible things to the contrary when they fight.

That belief was the big mistake, in my opinion.

It's one thing to set personal goals and to have standards, but it's quite another to think yourself better than your peers. If you live in the suburbs, it's OK to decide not to have lawn ornaments and to make fun of your neighbors' who do, but if you constantly need to put others down, you're probably just covering up your own sense of inadequacy. You really need to put a little pride in your work, find things and people you're passionate about, and worry less about what all your "delusional" neighbors are doing.

I suppose that wouldn't make much of a book or a movie, though, would it?
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