I just finished watching Revolutionary Road.
When I started the film light was streaming through my windows and when it ended the night had set. It was fitting because the film just seeps into you leaving you dark. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but in order to elaborate, I will a bit. And if you choose to read on, I still say it’s worth seeing for the acting and mostly for it what it says, for what it asks, for this question – What does it take to be happy?
Frank and April are the main characters. DiCaprio and Winslet respectively. They’re both gorgeous to watch and I don’t care how many times he does it, I’ll never grow tired of watching DiCaprio cry.
The synopsis of the film, quickly, is this: A Seemingly perfect couple with two kids. He works in sales. She raises the kids in suburbia. But she used to want to be an Actress. And Frank has no idea what he wants, never has, but he hates his job and wonders if he wasn’t meant for something more. She convinces him to give it all away and move to Paris. But of course before they can accomplish this dream everything turns upside down and on itself.
Too close to home. Flashback: I’m moving to Africa. I’m moving to New York. I’m moving to London! My whole entire life is going to change because I am meant for something.
The film got to me in tiny and big ways. More than I’ll say here. I was bothered. Bothered because the film brought to head many questions I’m already asking – What is happiness? What is compromise? What is responsibilty? What am I doing here?- and in the end, the answers they provide are quite horribly hopeless. And that’s what got to me – their utter misery. Their screaming and their cheating and their hatred. It bothered me because from where I sat I could see their choices. I could see the openings for surrender, for tenderness, for intimacy, for happiness. Choices. Choices. What a powerful word. So much is out of our reach, isn’t it? But then – the more – what we can touch – what we can decide. That’s where the real work presides. Here’s what I remembered while watching the film: The option of happiness is right there. It’s always right there. I don’t mean dishonest, insincere, let’s ignore how terribly painful everything is. Not that kind of nauseating dismissal of reality. I don’t mean giddiness. I don’t mean denial. But a choice. A choice to be open. A choice to trust. A choice to be kind. A choice to be devoted. A choice to forgive. A choice to surrender. A choice to love. Choice is the way out of the darkness. It’s the only way. And if you know me, you know what it means for me to say that – how much weight that holds. But while watching these two characters destroy their lives, the longing I had for them was that they would choose differently, that they would choose what was already there – love.
Too simplistic? My hippie roots revealed. Have I dismissed the complexities of what it means to navigate this painful road of loss and desire?
Perhaps. But god I want to be happy.
And what kills me in the film is what they forget. It is what I forget. There is no single place that holds my happiness. No future moment that has it all. There is only right now and there is only the people that I love. And I hope to God that I never give up on the pursuit of chaos and chances and adventures and what ifs. I never want to get stuck. But even so, even if nothing external changes in my life, if this is it, I hope I’ll still see the choice and choose the costly, emotional, sacrificial, painful opportunity to love.
I may have lost you in these thoughts that might be mine alone. But something feels good inside. All is not lost. Because this is what we have – no matter the poverty, or the oppression, or the staggering taste of defeat – there is always love to be had.