Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
It's 1955. Frank and April Wheeler, in the seventh year of their marriage, have fallen into a life that appears to most as being perfect. They live in the Connecticut suburbs with two young children. Frank commutes to New York City where he works in an office job while April stays at home as a housewife. But they're not happy. April has forgone her dream of becoming an actress, and Frank hates his job - one where he places little effort - although he has never figured out what his passion in life is. One day, April suggests that they move to Paris - a city where Frank visited during the war and loved, but where April has never been - as a means to rejuvenate their life. April's plan: she would be the breadwinner, getting a lucrative secretarial job for one of the major international organizations, while Frank would have free time to find himself and whatever his passion. Initially skeptical, Frank ultimately agrees to April's plan. When circumstances change around the Wheelers, April ... Written by
I went to see this at an advanced screener in Leicester Square last night. Kate Winslett chatted about the film on stage afterward. I went as one of those people who'd read the book and consider that source material to be amongst the best literature I'd ever read. I was wondering if and how the film could match up. My prior concerns were about how accurate the film would be. Well, there's nothing to worry about there. Mendes has created a near carbon copy of the book, the locations, characters and scenes are all exactly as I 'saw' them on the page. Nothing (as far as I could tell) is portrayed out of order, no extra characters are introduced, and no primary characters are dropped or altered. The acting is 100% perfect. The mies-en-scene is perfect. Absolutely nothing could or should have been done differently. So why not 10/10? The problem lies in the fact that Yates' novel is a literary one, much of the essence of the experience of the story is realized by Yates with just the right turn of phrase or choice of word. How does a director set about depicting or capturing this visually? I don't think he really can, he needs to use cinematic tricks and devices to inject resonance, the same resonance Yates achieves with that turn of phrase. But in being so (probably rightly) concerned about being true to the source material, the film somehow comes up a little flat as a film going experience, a sort of American Beauty without the crucial stylistic bells and whistles. Kate Winslett said afterward that (interestingly) it was she who had brought the book and the project to her husband, not vice versa and that it took some consideration for Sam Mendes to convince himself that he hadn't already told this story before, and by the final credits, I too was thinking just that, it felt like I'd watched a prequel to American Beauty, but without the pizazz and the rapture and the delight. So, the book, 10/10, the film, 8/10.
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