Some women, no matter how hard they try, are not cut out to be housewives. Now -- before I go any further, please let me emphasize that this is not a criticism of women who choose to stay at home. When my daughter was small, I would have given anything to be able to stay home, and be there when she got home from school, but it was not to be. I admire and even envy women who can do that. But, for some women it is not the life they choose. When I watched "Revolutionary Road", Kate Winslet's character, April Wheeler, reminded me of my mother. My mother was a talented artist, and her dream was to study in Paris. When she was 23, she had booked passage on an ocean liner and was ready to set sail for Paris, and her father stopped her. For the rest of her life, my mother had a faraway look of quiet desperation in her eyes.
April Wheeler has it all, the beautiful house, two children, a husband whom she loves -- but it is not enough. She also has that faraway look in her eyes. Her husband, Frank, has settled for a job he hates -- he has become "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit", riding the commuter train into the city every day. April tries to convince him to leave it all behind, take their two children, and start again in Paris, but Frank is not convinced.
April: "Don't you see? That's the whole idea! You'll be able to do what you should have been allowed to do seven years ago, you'll have the time. For the first time in your life, you'll have the time to find out what it is you actually want to do. And when you figure it out, you'll have the time and the freedom, to start doing."
Frank: "This doesn't seem very realistic.
April: "No, Frank. This is what's unrealistic. It's unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working year after year at a job he can't stand. Coming home to a place he can't stand, to a wife who's equally unable to stand the same things. And you know what the worst part of it is? Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we're special. They we're superior to the whole thing. But we're not. We're just like everyone else! We bought into the same, ridiculous delusion. That we have to resign from life and settle down the moment we have children. And we've been punishing each other for it."
This movie broke my heart, because there are so many people who do not fit into the so-called "American (Canadian) dream". My mother was one of them. Women in the 1950s and 1960s were beginning to see that they had other options if they wanted them. But they were trapped. They turned to pills and alcohol (mother's little helpers) to get them through their days -- and nights. In my mother's case, she created a beautiful home and garden, and she was a wonderful chef and hostess. She used her artistic abilities to make everything perfect. But she always had that far-away look in her eyes, and for days -- sometimes weeks on end -- she would disappear into a deep depression and shut herself away from her family. Those were the times, I imagine, when she would think about "what might have been".
Women still struggle with this issue today, even though there are no limitations to what they are able to do. That's why a movie like "Revolutionary Road" is still relevant, and it touches a chord with everyone. If you have a chance to see it, you may see your parents, or even yourselves, in April and Frank Wheeler.