Sunday, January 18, 2009

For a not so Revolutionary Road

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.”

Ecclesiastes 1:4

So Hollywood’s latest assault on Middle American values comes in the guise of a very well done, well acted film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. They play a couple that while once in love now find themselves towards the tail-end of an unsatisfying marriage. It almost plays like a “what if” scenario involving Jack and Rose of Titanic fame, as in “what if” they’d both managed to get off the boat alive and lived the American Dream, white picket fence included? How would a romantic young couple deal with having kids, a job, mortgage, car, the whole nine yards?

Lest you have any doubt how the subject matter of American suburban life will be treated, keep in mind it is directed by Sam Mendes of “American Beauty” fame… any character remotely satisfied with such a dull existence is obviously a headcase; for who could possibly (in the Left’s eyes) be content with material comfort and a loving family and children? As such, DiCaprio’s character finds solace from his dreary office job by having an affair with a young secretary at work while Winslet’s character finds herself stifled in the role of housewife and having her thespian aspirations crushed by her lack of talent in that field. Realizing that some form of change is necessary, they both decide to go to take off and relocate to Paris in the fall to really “live.” However, soon the realities of day to day life intrude, as Winslet gets pregnant and DiCaprio is offered a high paying promotion at work.

Funnily enough there IS a headcase in the movie, played rather well by Michael Shannon, whose character’s purpose is rather like that of the Greek Chorus, chiming in with the “ideal” audience response to the main characters’ problems and dilemmas. Mendes is obviously trying to state that given the rigidly enforced societal insanity of the time, someone capable of that “free thought” so endearing to the Left would be labeled insane and put away. As such, Shannon’s “mad” character states that the couple have sacrificed their dreams for a dreary existence when they eventually reach the conclusion that given their current circumstances Paris is unfeasible.

The main problem the movie suffers though is that any halfway normal human being walking away from it will find a hard time sympathizing with Winslet’s character and the movie’s intended message. In fact, having watched with a friend of mine who is by no means as firm in his conservatism/libertarianism, we BOTH walked away thinking the director’s intentions had backfired miserably. There is a famous sketch by Chris Rock in which he claims the show “Desperate Housewives” ought to be renamed “Ungrateful B------,” and I couldn’t help but remember it while watching Winslet’s character’s choices. To the extent that she is unhappy, the fault lies not in “society” or anything so vague inasmuch as in herself. She has a loving husband, material comfort in the form of a nice house/car etc., two lovely children, and plenty of free time in the day to pursue whatever hobby/interests she may have. To claim that this is a meaningless existence betrays more the Left’s increasing nihilism than any problem inherent suburban life.

And that is to me the crux of the issue: the Left has never really outgrown that adolescent urge to rebel. The Left is by and large a rather immature teenager demanding “me! me! me!” and feeling repressed anytime concepts like economic scarcity or cultural normalcy or (heaven forbid!) God’s laws get in the way of his immediate desires. I find that real sadness lies not in suburbia and traditional family (Christian?) values but rather in the glitzy, hedonistic world of “Sex and the City.” I am reminded of Hemingway’s inadvertently conservative novel “The Sun Also Rises” in which the expatriate community in Europe, stripped from that vision of the Eternal Rose that Dante saw, wanders aimlessly through life without sense of purpose.

When all is said and done, I can’t help but feel pity for those living in such a hollow existence.