Published Jan 05, 2009Throwing into question the necessity and desirability of the culturally dominant norm and its inherently circular and problematic patterns and limitations, Revolutionary Road sharply and sagaciously examines the disintegration of a marriage through disparate ideologies that grow broader over time.
They represent the socially predominant need to conform and be accepted by the rest of the herd, along with the discerning and pragmatic observation, which is often dismissed as insane, that perhaps blindly doing what is expected without exploring oneself or really assessing what matters in life is absurd and sets oneself up for disappointment, defeat and despondency.
There is little fault in any aspect of the film, as the performances are complex and powerful, the writing is focused and relevant, and Sam Mendes's direction of the material is utterly rousing. The simultaneous subtlety, clarity and necessary stillness in pointing out the lies that people tell themselves in order to trudge on is pitch-perfect and handled with a great maturity, especially considering how most people often glibly dismiss these notions as callow.
Based on Richard Yates's novel of the same name, Revolutionary Road examines the matrimony of Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio), a somewhat passionless rube whose marriage to the unorthodox and discerning April (Kate Winslet) is less about connection and more about having something pretty to have on his arm during cocktail parties.
Settling into a routine life of nine-to-five hell and passionless, prescribed desires, the pair develop a hatred for each other until April comes up with a plan to move to France, which initially appeals to Frank, until fear of the unknown takes over and forces April back into a life without hope.
There is rare beauty and truth in this film, which will connect with a choice few on a deeply personal level. And even those who live life like Kathy Bates' character, honestly believing that Michael Shannon's character is insane, will have an appreciation for the impressive overall aesthetic and intense performances on display. Revolutionary Road truly is one of the best films in some time. (Paramount)