The traditional lament of readers is that a movie never quite captures a book. I will be watching along, and say right out loud, 'that wasn't in the book!' Many times we choose not to see a visual adaptation because we want our own imaginations to prevail, and not be tainted by actors or representations. Yet, I've just had the opposite happen to me. You may recall that I was pretty thrilled by the movie, Revolutionary Road. My friend Les most kindly sent me her copy of the book. She wasn't wild about it at all, but I was still eager to read it while the movie was fresh in my mind. I was sure I'd enjoy a more complex view of the characters which a book offers. And so I began. A small criticism I did have about the movie was it started abruptly without the viewer really knowing what was going on. The book begins with the same scene, but with more explanation of the situation. I thought, good, good, this is what I was hoping for. And then two little sentences jumped right off the page. But let me set the scene first. The couple, Frank and April Wheeler, are having a powerful argument. In the movie, he raises his fist to her, but hits the car instead. In the book, the same event occurs, but in the midst of the fight she says, 'do you think I've forgotten the time you hit me in the face because I said I wouldn't forgive you? Oh, I've always known I had to be your conscience and your guts - and your punching bag.' And then the scene happens when Frank hits the car.
And I closed the book. I didn't want to know Richard Yates' Frank Wheeler. Leonardo portrayed a different man, a man I liked and respected a fair bit. He was not a wife-beater, and that's that.