Revolutionary Road

by

Director – Sam Mendes

Writers – Justin Haythe (screenplay), Richard Yates (novel)

Starring – Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet

Synopsis

April (Winslet) and Frank Wheeler (Di Caprio) are a young, thriving couple living with their two children in a Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. Their self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job, and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy

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Review

Anticipation – none; but the laws of physics were not on my side this night, having less than 5 minutes to get from central to Bath to central Bristol; park and walk to the cinema, there was little other option than Revolutionary Road in the Little. Of what I had heard from newspapers and word of mouth it seemed that Kate Winslet had done it again; of which I was not suprised – not of her acting being good, but that a majority of critics’ had their collective head up her ass. It seems 2009 is her year. Other than that and a vague, somewhat repulsive title (it stands as the worst of the year so far, I’m sure), I knew nothing of the film – a fresh feeling as the opening credits roll.

We are introduced to the happy couple at the inception of their relationship, with Frank’s suave and wit winning over April’s heart. All of a sudden we are around a year into their relationship and the two are at each others throats. It certainly feels fresh, but ultimately difficult to digest – like taking echinacea for the first time: its a foreign taste, but you know for sure you don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, it was necessary to have the scene where they first meet as well as swiftly moving the story to the middle years of their relationship, but the way it was carried out left me in disarray.

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Once the ugly business of the set-up is over with we get to chow down on some raw acting skills. It is a character driven plot and the actors (and director) really have to carry the film on their backs in order for it to be a success. Fortunately, Di Caprio is amazing. Predictably, Winslet gets the majority of screen time. Now that may not be matter of fact but what I do know is that the glory shots or pouty close-ups she gets remain for an extra Oscar-winning second longer. Obviously this bugged me, for loyal readers will know my views upon her; coupled with the fact that, without Di Caprio in the scene, she looks lost. I remember an early scene she shared with Kathy Bates was worthy of cringe.

The film lends itself to an appealing, if not depressing, plot: the dark side of suburban normality. However, extra characters (of whom I enjoyed the inclusion of) were slotted in at times when it seemed like something had to happen, which meant the plot struggled and it felt like it dragged out the running time too. Speaking of running time, it desperately needed the last 5 minutes sliced off at the end; a real heartbreaker as, what should have been the final 20 minutes were the strongest of the film.

Overall – A nice idea, with a great performance from Di Caprio, but ultimately the screenplay doesn’t deliver the goods.

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