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The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
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Noi is an intelligent 17-year old, living today's Icelandic rural life. Noi is a very white lad, looking much like a lead singer in some band called "Midnight Oil". Completing the white-death symbolism which permeates this film, Noi is an albino surrounded by icy, white, snowy landscapes.
Noi can solve the Rubric Cube in a matter of a couple of minutes and defeat a skilled opponent at "Mastermind" within seconds. However, most people who know Noi don't appreciate his innate intelligence nor his very well hidden libido. That's because they've pretty much accepted their tamped-down rural lives. Most people around Noi are dead-like, passionless and joyless, but don't know it. Noi knows. He knows a lot of things; but he's not ready to let anyone else in on his secrets. Besides, it's hard communicating with the living-dead. He's keeping his libidinous urges to himself, hiding away, waiting for the right moment.
Living in a semi-morgue can be cold and cold you are, watching "Noi The Albino". Noi's grandmother moves with a sense of deliberate Spockian purpose, expressionless and ever so slowly. His teacher teaches with a dispassion, resembling a 12th Century Gregorian chant, droned within a drafty, stone church. And his father is like a zombified Jim Backus, resigned to remembering the sparks of lives past, with his own karaoke recordings of Elvis songs populating his taxi's glovebox--graveyards of a ghetto-life gone by.
Noi is 'California dreaming',like kids his age did back in the 60s. He wants out of this winter of constant discontent, this daily life of quiet, hallroom tick-tocks, passing time over things, like jigsaw puzzles, waiting, waiting for snowy, stone cold death. Noi dreams escape to the warmth of an Hawaiian life. In the meantime, he'll drop out--rebel style, without a cause, so to speak--except for himself. Noi's alone, an isolated individual rebel or so he thinks, until he meets the new girl in town, Iris. Iris is from the city. Noi tests her with a dare or two and stirs an ember of adventure. You can see it in her face. They stimulate each other's imagination within the snowy, white within the deathly, cold Icelandic winter. The cold drives them to find each other most appropriately, in the local museum, a house of dead things. But,daydreaming is as far as Iris will go with Noi and when Noi steals a car urging Iris to become his partner in crime, to make the small town prison break of their lives, Iris remains behind with cold feet and like the others surrounding Noi, she stares her farewell with cold, cold eyes of resignation. Noi's emotional, romantic rebellion ends in its usual impotent rage.
Noi's job as a gravedigger and his special hideout, a hole below the floors of his grandma's house, all point to one direction for this lad. As he is told by the town tea leaf reader, "You will be surrounded by death."
Wage-slaves tend to reproduce the lives which their parents lived, with minor changes of location and personages. It's also true that some young adults swear that they'll live life differently. There's an urge to avoid a meaningless existence. There is that youthful Kerouac-like urge to escape the Big Bourgeois Trap and instead, to jump in the car, put the peddle to the metal and be free.
Willy Loman was trapped. Arthur Miller wrote his play "Death of a Salesman", revealing the life of a tired, forgotten wage-slave near the end of life's road; loyal to his bosses, disloyal to his wife, while lying to his kids and at the same time supporting them financially through his tireless journeys for love and money. It's more than ironic that Elia Kazan directed 742 performances of "Death of a Salesman" in which Lee J. Cobb played the empty, hopelessness characterized in Willy. Ironic why? Because, among other things, Kazan's granddaughter has a significant role, playing Milly in "Revolutionary Road". Ah, but that's another story. See the film.
Willy Loman's world is just one aspect of this 1955-centered movie which can be mined by the mindful. There are so many others, including references to the movie version of Edward Albee's George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?". Ah yes, the 'bickerings' you say. Ah yes, the secrets, lies and use of sex as a weapon in the struggle between males and females in marriage. Ah, but there's even more to "Revolutionary Road" than this.
"Revolutionary Road" is about the desire for freedom, nay, the instinct for freedom which is constantly being stomped down within the Big Bourgeois Trap from the time you are a terrible two until you've finally grown up and realized that you must be an adult and conform. Either that or die or become a hobo or be thrown in an insane asylum as the mathematics Ph.d. John Givings has been in "Revolutinary Road". John (played excellently by Michael Shannon) is that kind of Francis Farmer non-conformist who has not grown out of his child-like bluntness, ergo, he must be shocked to keep from shocking others. (Was he thrown in the asylum by his ever loving mother, played by Kathy Bates?) He blurts out truths, even within proper, safe social settings. He blurts them out like the machine gun fire one might face as a soldier during WWII. Frank Wheeler (Di Caprio) has seen this kind of truth before. At first, he and April recognize it and embrace it. Frank was a soldier, facing death in the WWII, which in 1955 had only ended ten years before. It was at that moment of life or death truth, he confesses to his wife April (Kate Winslet), that he felt the most alive, even though he was frightened. And April, whose love for her husband has been challenged by the hum-drum life of housewifery in the safe, leafy suburbs of NYC, confesses that she felt the same, existential awakening when she first experienced love making with Frank, back when they were young and on their own revolutionary road away from the ordinary lives which their parents had lived. The moment of this mutual recognition leads to a very steamy sex scene in the kitchen. Surely, you are interested now, dear readers.
The thing is that Frank is now a salesman for the same company which employed his father and he sees the death trap of a Willy Loman lifestyle descending over him, much as Willy's children saw it destroy their father. April sees it too. But hell, they've now decided to chuck it all, the relative security of life in the burbs of the 50s to take a chance on April in Paris. Yes, to move the two kids and their married lives ('the whole catastrophe', to quote Zorba) to Europe where existentialist juices are imagined to be flowing as freely as the espresso at the Cafe des Deux Maggots. The prospect of finally 'finding themselves' blooms somewhere, just over the rainbow shrouded Atlantic Ocean. Yes, the chimes of freedom are flashing again after some years of marriage with its triumphs and disappointments. Their instincts have been re-awakened from the doldrums of everyday life in the 50s with the father kissing the wife a la Dagwood and taking off to bring home the bacon from the office which Mr. Dithers runs and the kids, of course, running around in the yard shouting, "Mommy" and "Daddy".
In the beginning of their relationship, both April and Frank really want this freedom from the Big Bourgeois Trap and they believe that this urge places them in another league from their peers. This urge sets them on fire with love for each other. Others see the spirit in them too, the ones who have already grown-up, conforming to the lies required of fear-filled wage-slaves in everyday life. They want to touch it; but are ultimately cowed by their social conditioning, rationalized as,"familial responsibilities". When Frank is offered a big promotion in sales (he will be an ad-man for the then, cutting edge exotic machines called computers), he is tempted to accept and give up on pulling up stakes in burbs and moving to Paris with April.
April is not of the same mind. She is still star struck with the idea of getting out, perhaps escaping to the sheltering skies of Tangiers with Paul Bowles, instead of ending up as yet another archetypal Lucy Jordan, wife to that ultimate tragic archetype of capitalism, Willy Loman. Thus, lovers become haters and the road to revolution in their lives turns into its opposite: death on the installment plan in middlebrow suburbia, complete with those occasional visits to a reputable psychiatrist, just so one can remain safely shrink-wrapped in the Big Bourgeois Trap.
This is the best war movie ever. The best way to describe it, I reckon,
is to pass on a newspaper article written by Ilya Ehrenburg during
World War II when all the things which happen in "Come and See" were
NIKOLAI VLADIMIROVICH -- ONE YEAR OLD Red Star, November 30 1943
How much the Germans have taken from us! They have taken from us not
only loved ones, homes, and possessions. Life was complicated. There
were dreams, joys, people, many books, many countries. But now
everything in me is unchangeably focused on one thing: on the German.
I see him -- blue-eyed and inhuman. He walks and kills, he sings and
kills, he laughs and kills.
Among the papers of the town head of the village of Vyazovaya, recently
liberated from the Germans, was found the following document:
"List of executed residents of the village of Vyazovaya, Uzninskaya
1) Muzalevskaya Natalia Ivanovna. 43 years old. 2) Muzalevskaya Natalia
Nikolaevna. 18 years old. 3) Muzalevskaya Diana Nikolaevna. 16 years
old. 4) Muzalevsky Lev Nikolaevich. 13 years old. 5) Muzalevskaya
Valentina Nikolaevna. 9 years old. 6) Muzalevskaya Tamara Nikolaevna. 5
years old. 7) Muzalevskaya Rima Nikolaevna. 3 years old. 8) Davydov
Vladimir Ilych. 35 years old. 9) Davydov Anatoli Vladimirovich. 8 years
old. 10) Davydov Victor Vladimirovich. 5 years old. 11) Davydov Nikolai
Vladimirovich. 1 year old. 12) Pryadochkina Maria Petrovna. 60 years
19 September 1942. Town head Muzalev."
Can this be forgotten? Is it possible to live knowing that people are
walking the earth who shot Davydov Nikolai Vladimirovich to death, one
year old, an infant, the baby Kolya, shot him and ordered his name
entered into a list? It is hard to talk about it, but impossible to
forget. We still have a long way to go. But we will get there. We will
find them. We will find them under their beds, in their vegetarian
cafeterias, at the ends of the Earth. We will remember the one-year-old
Kolya Davydov. We will remember much.