Saturday, December 27, 2008

Feminism on film: "Revolutionary Road"

by Chloe Angyal

The Huffington Post
calls it "required watching for all young women who think that feminism is irrelevant." Sam Mendes' new film, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio is not, it seems, just for Titanic fans hoping for a Jack and Rose reunion.

From what reviewers are saying, it looks like Revolutionary Road is a movie version of The Feminine Mystique, which also makes it required watching for all young women who think that feminism is relevant and awesome. And it's at the top of a very long list of movies that I desperately want to see.

Melissa Silverstein, a who consulted on the film, writes that it "shows what life was like for women before feminism. It's an important history lesson from the not too distant past." She adds, "watch it and read The Feminine Mystique, and be thankful that there was a feminist movement, or who knows what life would be like now."

So, dear readers, through whom I'll have to live vicariously for now (there's a thesis deadline calling my name), have you seen Revolutionary Road? What did you think of it?


At December 28, 2008 at 4:09 PM , Anonymous CristinaL said...

I haven’t yet seen the movie or read the Richard Yates novel on which it is based, but from the many reviews I’ve read (I’m very eager to see this movie), Kate Winslet’s character April is not particularly sympathetic. Some note that while her options are limited in pre-feminist suburbia, they are not nearly as dire as she believes. I’ve read that there is evidence to suggest she is bipolar, if not self-absorbed. A good movie or novel demands complex characters. I don’t chastise April for being more palatable; I just caution against naming her situation as the embodiment of The Feminine Mystique. I’ll reserve further judgment until I’ve seen it (I don’t think it’s getting wide release until late January), but I think there is a danger in attaching a political movement to a fictional character, since they can serve to undermine each other. As that article in the Huffington Post was written by a studio consultant (presumably paid), I question whether feminism is being used – perhaps carelessly – as a marketing ploy.

At December 30, 2008 at 8:53 PM , Blogger Amelia said...

That's a good point, Cristina - I haven't read the book or seen the film but I've seen several reviews (not from major news sources, but still) that cite The Feminine Mystique as the source for the film, not the Richard Yates novel. This is disturbing to me because I think that we're starting to use the housewife's malaise (eloquently illustrated by Betty Friedan) as an excuse for every discontent, and that we're still not taking women seriously as complex beings. I'm interested to see the film but I think you're right - for the film to raise interesting feminist issues, Kate Winslet's character doesn't have to mimic the "trapped" women of The Feminine Mystique exactly, and to do so is actually to diminish their struggles.


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