Revolutionary Road (2008) is a drama set in the 50s that brings together the Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, except this time they are not falling in love with each other, but rather are suburbanites falling out of love. The problem with their marriage is that they both originally wanted something different than a traditional suburbanite lifestyle, but DiCaprio’s posture was more a pretense and he eventually drifts back to suburban values of work and kids. Both stars are credible, and Michael Shannon plays a wonderful mentally-ill character who talks with a jarring frankness that exposes DiCaprio’s/Winslet’s lapses. The Rotten Tomato critics and audience are in general agreement with 68% and 71%, respectively. I liked it even better at three and a half stars out of four.
Adam (2009) is a drama about a young guy with Asperger’s syndrome, which is described in Wikipedia as follows:
- “An autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical (peculiar, odd) use of language are frequently reported.”
That description is accurately portrayed by Adam in this movie. Adam is a sweet, young computer guy in Manhattan who meets a sweet, young attractive woman who moves into his building, and they explore the possibility of having a relationship. Critics have accurately suggested that the plot is a bit implausible because such an attractive girl (Rose Byrne), not matter how sweet, would be unlikely to seriously consider a guy like Adam (Hugh Dancy). But they forget There’s Something About Mary, and we guys like to dream. The Rotten Tomato critics scored the movie, which was a box office flop, at 64%, while the audience liked it slightly better at 72%. I agree with the audience because, despite the simple, slightly implausible plot, the characters were likeable and the question of whether to have a relationship with an Asperger’s person is interesting. So I give it three stars out of four.
True Detective (2014) is an eight-part HBO series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. I recently subscribed to HBO and my first order of business was to binge on this highly acclaimed series for a couple of days. The plot revolves around a 17-year murder investigation in Louisiana (the home state of writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto), and it seems like the state is filled with a bunch of Jerry Springer-type people. The story starts in current time (2012), but continually refers back to an early time in the investigation, and the aging/un-aging of McConaughey (actually 45) and Harrelson (actually 52) is amazing. For the scenes set in 1995, these guys actually look like they were in their early 30s.
Although both McConaughey and Harrelson play characters with horrible flaws, they are easily the good guys who you are rooting for. Their acting and Pizzolatto’s writing are superb. And Harrelson’s wife, well played by Michelle Monaghan, supplies a critical dimension. The Rotten Tomato critics loved True Detective at 87%, but the audience loved it more at 98%. I agree with the critics and give it four stars out of four.