Who’s In It: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
The Basics: From the director of American Beauty comes another empty, fake-meaningful tale of how rotten it is in the suburbs--it’s set in the late 1950s but it’s still about now--and how your dreams are going to die, DIE, if you give in to that environment’s blandness and polite behavior and conformity. On the perks end of the scale, you could minimize your ennui with a backyard trampoline, but the movie never explores that totally viable option.
What’s The Deal: If you’re a Titanic obsessive you might want to prep yourself for this one, because Kate and Leo are over each other. Like really over each other. In fact, nearly the entire running time of the movie involves them diving into the even deeper and more deadly ocean of what happens when you don’t die on a famously sunk luxury liner at the height of your newfound romantic passion. You get married and get bored and start resenting the other person, even though it’s your own fault you are how you are now. And then you have ugly, mercilessly unpleasant, screaming fights—I gotta say, I loved those, they’re a less demanding, music-video version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?. So if they give Oscars for verbally gnawing on your co-star (and they do) these two are already in the running. Eventually it all ends horribly. Like, SO horribly it’s almost a parody of the idea of “horrible.” Fun!
What It Lacks, Besides The Trampoline: It’s based on Richard Yates’s 1961 novel of the same name. A great book full of inner-life stuff. The movie leaves those parts out to get to the fighting and the tragedy. I guess you’re just supposed to see it on their faces? Calibrate it based on the sheer volume of their unhappiness?
What’s Awesome: Well, I'm a Winslet fan. I can watch her in anything even if it's not good (see: The Reader) But that's not what's truly awesome. The production design, though, is pretty sweet. Everyone looks like they're on Mad Men, for starters. And just like while I was watching Doubt, I found myself happily distracted by all the perfectly preserved vintage furniture in between the moments where people are having meltdowns. You’d think an appreciation for their very attractive surroundings would be some consolation, but it’s never enough with these people.