Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity, 119 minutes
This "Road" is a tragic but memorable one
"Revolutionary Road" is a sad but powerful film that makes relevant statements on suburban life, lost dreams and truly living your life. Based on the classic novel of the same name by Richard Yates, it's a contemporary tragedy albeit one that many can still relate to today. "Revolutionary Road" is also superbly made and sublimely acted by two of today's great young actors, and it's worth a look for that alone.
Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet) Wheeler are a young, successful couple living in the Connecticut suburbs on Revolutionary Road with their two young children. Unfortunately, their confident exterior hides the real truth. Frank is woefully frustrated at his boring corporate job, and April is equally unhappy as a housewife longing to be a successful actress. Determine to rise above the mediocrity they call suburbia, they desire to make a change for their lives to achieve true happiness and self-fullfillment.
In a move initiated by April, this involves a move to Paris, a place she's always longed to see. April will get a job to support the family while Frank determines what he wants to do. Some unexpected changes in their lives propel them to reconsider, though it could in fact destroy their relationship and their lives, leading them to lead lives they in fact despise.
"Revolutionary Road" is an expertly drawn portrait of what our lives can be depending on the choices we make. It's not an uplifting look but is indeed a faithful adaptation of Yates tragic novel. "Road" is superbly directed by Sam Mendes, who's channeled some of these themes before in his own Oscar-winning "American Beauty." Though set in the 1950's, some of the ideas are still fresh and hit home in many ways as many of us grow older and accept how life will be. We go to work, make money, have families and settle.
Mendes elicits sublime performances from his cast, including his wife Winslet, who reunites with "Titanic" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. It's amazing in the 11 years since that film how both have become accomplished actors, particularly Winslet, who gives a fine, subdued and very nuanced portrait of an unhappy housewife. It's one of her best roles, and Winslet has unique abilities to convey sadness with her face and body movements.
Yet, Winslet couldn't do this without the fine chemistry she has with DiCaprio, who also gives a remarkable performance as a man who often settles for less when he knows the right thing to do. Their exchanges throughout "Road" highlight the film; unlike many husbands and wives, their characters seem reversed - DiCaprio plays a chatterbox who wants to talk about everything while Winslet just wants to be left alone.
Though "Road" is clearly Winslet and DiCaprio's film, they receive ample and solid support, from Kathy Bates (their "Titanic" co-star, how we forget) as nosy real-estate agent Helen Givings, and especially from character actor Michael Shannon, who delivers a funny, memorable turn as Givings son, a mentally unbalanced man who can see the real truth (or the "hopelessness" as he calls it) in the Wheelers. The scene in the last act at the dinner table with Shannon, Bates, Winslet and DiCaprio is one of the best scenes in the film.
The final act of "Revolutionary Road" is a haunting, tragic one and the fates of the characters become clearer near the end. Maybe there's more hope in real life than what is presented here, at least we'd like to think so. "Revolutionary Road" is a great film, just know it's also a downbeat and depressing one. My true hope is that Winslet will finally win a much deserved Oscar for one of her films this year, and between this and her other great performance in "The Reader," her chances are looking good.