DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
I find it difficult to say how I took this film. On one hand it is a contemporary story of a failing relationship which happens to be set in the 1950 post war America and on the other, it is a depressing suburban drama which shares the tone with the 2002 period drama, Far From Heaven (2002) and a strong aesthetic with the hit TV show, Mad Men (2007 – 2015).
On the face of, and as it was remarked at the time, it come across as a bit of a dark take on what may have happened to the Titanic (1997) couple, Jack and Rose, if Jack had survived the doomed liner in James Cameron’s epic a decade earlier but that is due to nothing other than the casting, the reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Based on the novel by Richard Yates, the interplay between this disintegrating couple, trapped within the American Dream, is perfect, reflecting so many relationships, new and old, but the story is trite and stylised to point of a glossy fantasy, though very much in keeping with the directorial style of Sam Mendes, but this may well make what would otherwise be a depressing kitchen sink drama in to something much more palatable.
Overall, this is not an entertaining watch but it is very good, dark and at times, maudlin. Our protagonists are troubled but the extent of their mental health is never truly defined, making their actions all the more sinister and disturbingly realistic. Are they driving each other mad or are they simply unhappy?
Mendes leaves this ambiguous, as life truly is.