Friday, February 13, 2009

I only came to, er, check your boiler.

Would you like to spend an evening in the company of yelling, screaming bourgeoisie people with problems-a-plenty? Well, you're in luck. Out in cinemas at the moment are not one but two, yes two!, movies detailing the ups and downs of just such people. What's that you say? You'd love to go, but the credit crunch means you only have enough for one? What a shame. I'll try to give you all the help I can.

If you like your bourgeoisie with a little bit more repression, then why not take a trip back to the white-collar world of the 1950s with Revolutionary Road? There waiting to welcome you with folded arms are the Wheelers, a man and wife with two children (they're around... somewhere. But don't worry if you don't like children because they know they're best not seen or heard.). Frank works in the city, but that's all very constricting and straight-laced so he generally spends his time skiving off, getting drunk and fucking secretaries. (Hey, if it's good enough for those Mad Men, it's good enough for you.) Don't tell his wife April, though. It'll only give her more ammo to sling at him when he tries to explain why he's just not as adventurous or distressed with his life as she is.

But it's April you might be into spending more time with... if you like free spirits that is. Try and tell her what to do or box her in and she won't take it well. She wants to get away you see. Paris, maybe, but anywhere to the East will do. If she's a little distant, just feel her out, and watch her open up. That's all she wants, see. Freedom. All this repression gets to her, and there's no telling what she'll do if all gets to be too much.

Still, she's the more relatable one, and the one they want to sympathize with. I think. See, this film's a bit odd, really. A bit Greek. (Did you see that film last year? It's a bit like this. Only this is a little softer.) Only problem is this tragedy starts going round in circles. Like depression? Good, because this film can't get away from it. The circulation gets a bit boring, really, starts drowning in its own fatuousness. All these people are pitched on different levels and when they bash together it's like a comedic farce meeting a stripped-back realist drama. Be careful treading into this world, because the tectonic plates won't stop shifting. C+

If you're of a more modern mind-set, however, Rachel Getting Married might be just the ticket for you. They're all a bit bohemian here, all kooky and a bit eclectic, although the returning former drug addict sister of the titular bride-to-be is welcomed back with mixed feelings. Daddy loves her; Sister's a bit more wary. So she should be. There's some dark shit in these people's pasts, but don't worry: there's no po-faced deceptions going on here, just natural familial dynamics playing out in improvised, documentary-like fashion- that camera never rests, see, barely lets itself have a break except when one of these people starts monologuing, and even then it's still gloriously open, checking out reactions from people you know and people you don't, drawing people together. You're a person. You're drawn in too. They want you to be a part of this, right? You might find some of their dishwasher antics a bit bonkers but this is warts and all, man. Take the good with the bad, the dark with the light.

Take Kym, for example- the former drug addict sister. She looks a bit messy, like she hasn't washed her hair for a while, and she smokes like a chimney- Mom doesn't like that, but then what jurisdiction does she have anyway, she's never around- and she always wants everything to be about her. Check out her rehearsal speech. I'm sure the good intentions of honouring the happy couple were there somewhere, but like the best of us the only one on Kym's mind is Kym. Fair enough, really, she's been shoved off to the end of the table- not really a place for family members. But anyway, yes, light and dark. This is a woman- a girl, still, maybe- who recognises her own failings, pities herself, has illusions that somehow she can make them funny, and as she stumbles her way through her words you're not sure whether to laugh, cry or hide behind your own fingers. But at least now you have the option- all those Wheelers want is for you to leave with tears streaming down your face. B+

What's that you say? You'd rather see nuns be outrageously ambiguous? Sorry, I don't think there's a film like that showing right now...

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