Revolutionary Road


Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by:Justin Haythe
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour
Released: January 22, 2009
Grade: A

If I were to sum up Revolutionary Road in a single sentence, I’d say it was about a young couple in the 1950s having some serious marital problems. To describe the film so simply though would be an injustice to the filmmakers. This is a deep film with an intricate story and complex characters. It left me with much to think about.

I could spend hours analysing the key figures but I do my best to provide a quick summary. Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet) fit the definition of a model family. They have two children, a boy and a girl, and they have a nice home in a well-to-do neighbourhood. Frank has a standard office job whilst April is a house mother. They are close with their next door neighbours and often invite them over for drinks.

They may look like an ideal couple but Frank and April are going through somewhat of a mid-life crisis. The hopes and dreams they once had have been replaced with a life of monotony and predictability. There’s nothing left to excite them.

The building tension is relieved when April suggests that they move to France. She can get a job as a secretarial assistant and Frank can take a break and spend time with the kids. Frank thinks it’s a great idea and they start making plans.

Their proposal doesn’t sit well with their friends and colleagues. They can’t understand why they want to "escape" their current life. Their concerns rub off on both Frank and April who now find themselves filled with doubt. Will going to Paris really make them happy? Will it fix the deep-seeded problems that are slowly driving them apart?

As much as I liked this film, I have to warn people that it is extremely heavy going. I felt like I needed to see an Adam Sandler film after walking out the cinema just to lighten things up. It’s both dark and depressing. It will probably hit those hardest who have been through such experiences in their own lives.

The reason Revolutionary Road is so impressive is because of the powerful performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It’s a far cry from the last time they teamed up – 11 years ago for Titanic. Their bitter arguments are excruciatingly difficult to watch. I felt like walking out of the cinema – not because I hated the movie but because I wanted to give them some space to sort out their difficulties.

The emotional outbursts from both DiCaprio and Winslet are contrasted by equally awkward scenes where they keep to themselves. The communication between them has broken down and you can tell from their demeanour that they are melancholic. I couldn’t "get inside their heads" and I think the reason was because these people were just as lost and confused.

There is one other character worth pointing out – Michael Shannon plays John Givings, a once gifted mathematician who has since been institutionalised with psychological problems. He meets April and Frank on two occasions and his brutally honest remarks about their lifestyle have a lasting impact. It’s a career-defining role for Shannon.

Director Sam Mendes hasn’t made a bad film. His three previous credits were American Beauty, Road To Perdition and Jarhead. The guy knows how to leave an impact and Revolutionary Road continues his perfect streak.