Revolutionary Road Film Review
By Kam Williams
DiCaprio and Winslet Reunite for Sobering Drama as Couple in Crisis
It's hard to believe that it's been over a decade since Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet enthralled us as the star-crossed lovers at the heart of Titanic, the romantic epic saga which swept the Oscars in 2008. Here, they're finally paired opposite each other again, this time as a dysfunctional couple seeking salvation from an unsatisfying marriage. Furthermore, they are fortunate to have been surrounded by a superb supporting cast topped by Kathy Bates and Michael Shannon who has landed an Oscar nomination for his performance as a profoundly-disturbed neighbor.
Directed by Winslet's husband Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road is a morose examination of the mindset and mores of the Fifties based on Richard Yates's 1961 novel of the same name. Although the story's somber tone is a tad too downbeat to appeal to a mass audience, there's nonetheless much to recommend about this feel-bad flick based.
Compared to Titanic, this relatively-pedestrian production has no spectacular mob scenes aboard an ill-fated ocean liner to provide a riveting hook regardless of the quality of the acting, but rather relies directly upon DiCaprio and Winslet to convey the requisite emotional range necessary to keep the character-driven drama compelling. And they do not disappoint as protagonists Frank and April Wheeler whose toxic relationship might best be described as the opposite of magical.
Following an opening scene featuring the Wheelers falling in love at first sight across the proverbial crowded room while still in the bloom of youth, the film fast-forwards a number of years to 1955 where we find them married with young children and already miserably unhappy. They both resent being stuck playing conventional roles in the Connecticut suburbs.
Housewife April regrets having settled for motherhood and performing in community theater when she'd prefer to be pursuing her dream of becoming a legitimate actress. Jaded Frank, meanwhile, feels trapped by his daily commute to New York City to the same sort of unfulfilling sales job which swallowed up his father's future.
Will Frank agree to April's 30th birthday suggestion that they revive their relationship by moving to Paris to find themselves? Or will a clandestine affair with a secretary offer enough of a respite from his never-ending nightmare to keep the couple in the States? Another fly in the ointment arrives in April's unplanned pregnancy, since the last thing this sordid scenario needs is another sordid baby.
Thus, "Can this marriage be saved?" is established early on as the central theme of Revolutionary Road, as the Wheelers' descend into an embittered existence marked mostly by acrimony, adultery, resentment and overwhelming regret. A road to ruin paved more by mindless conformity than by good intentions.
Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, nudity and sexuality.
Running time: 120 minutes
Studio: Paramount Vantage
To see a trailer for Revolutionary Road,
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