Revolutionary Road (2008)

revolutionaryroad_2008_poster
Revolutionary Road (2008)
  • Time: 119 min
  • Genre: Drama | Romance
  • Director: Sam Mendes
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

Storyline:

It’s 1955. Frank and April Wheeler, in the seventh year of their marriage, have fallen into a life that appears to most as being perfect. They live in the Connecticut suburbs with two young children. Frank commutes to New York City where he works in an office job while April stays at home as a housewife. But they’re not happy. April has forgone her dream of becoming an actress, and Frank hates his job – one where he places little effort – although he has never figured out what his passion in life is. One day, April suggests that they move to Paris – a city where Frank visited during the war and loved, but where April has never been – as a means to rejuvenate their life. April’s plan: she would be the breadwinner, getting a lucrative secretarial job for one of the major international organizations, while Frank would have free time to find himself and whatever his passion. Initially skeptical, Frank ultimately agrees to April’s plan. When circumstances change around the Wheelers, April decides she will do whatever she has to to get herself out of her unhappy existence.

One review

  • Sam Mendes’ journey as a film director comes full circle with his latest feature – Revolutionary Road, a motion picture that paints a bleak portrait of the American suburban life; a theme he has explored in his debut Oscar-winning film, American Beauty (1999) before embarking on a creative curve with acclaimed films such as the crime drama Road to Perdition (2002), and the biographical war picture Jarhead (2005).

    The British filmmaker returns to what he does best, weaving a story around drama-centric performances that open the window to human nature. Since James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have embarked on envious, ambitious acting careers, establishing themselves as A-list actors whom are not afraid of tackling demanding dramatic roles.

    In Revolutionary Road, they are reunited as the Wheelers, lovers in a marriage which from a blissful start becomes increasingly strained along the way. Their performances are a standout. Individually, they give commanding displays that are unfortunately not recognized by the Academy. But it is their performances collectively that is more impressive; their screen-friendly chemistry still remains after more than a decade.

    The star of the supporting cast is Michael Shannon, whose character John is a recently-discharged-mental-patient-who-obviously-has-not-recovered neighbor whose occasional awkward visits to the Wheelers together with his parents bring more grief and anger than jubilation.

    There is a spectacular dramatic set-piece in the second half of the film that pits John against the Wheelers in a furious war of words. Although viewers are able to see it coming, the build-up to the film is extraordinary. Prior to John’s visit, the Wheelers have a massively intense quarrel over marital issues which are interrupted by the visitors. Thus, the mood is set brilliantly for an inevitable bitter exchange of words of volcanic proportions.

    For almost a decade, Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman has had a strong contribution towards the aural look of Mendes’ pictures. In this film, the score is less distinct, but it is no less Mendes-resque. The last sequence casts a shadow of gloom and offers no glimmer of optimism, which means the film has the potential to end powerfully. However, it is not executed well enough to bring a satisfactory sense of closure to the lives of these people.

    Revolutionary Road is like a psychoanalysis of our mundane lives. Well for most of us. While it may not showcase Mendes in top form, the film’s intention is clear and it leaves us with a sour aftertaste: Are we too good for anybody?

    GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)
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