A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
Everyone probably knows by now that it has been 12 years since Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have been on screen together. Of course, I am talking about Titanic. And finally they decide to do this film. There is a lot of pressure on these two because of the success of their last one together. But I believe it was important to tell a different story this time around. And they did just that. Whatever relationship Jack and Rose had in Titanic, Frank and April WheelerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relationship is the complete opposite in Revolutionary Road.
The story is about this couple, The Wheelers, in the 1950s. In this era, men earned the money and the women stayed home. It was a life of conformity. However, the Wheelers wanted to be different. They wanted to be special. But soon they find themselves in the same situation as everyone else. Some may be happy with that, but not Frank and April. So, April comes up with this idea of Frank and her escaping to Paris. This gives the couple hope for a while. Without giving anything away, due to certain situations Frank and April never make it to Paris.
This story really is about a couple desperately trying to keep their marriage together, however, it is slowly dying instead. DiCaprio and Winslet are amazing in this film. They are good friends in real life and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good thing. Some of the scenes they have together seems like pure hate for another. But they are just great actors. They are able to leave all of their emotions on screen. Winslet has already been in a great film this year called The Reader, and she does not disappoint in this either. April is a completely different role, but Winslet nails it. But DiCaprio stands toe-to-toe with her. They drive this film and I think their reunion was worth the wait. As they have matured, so have their material.
I have to acknowledge two other key players in this film. The director, Sam Mendes, does a great job showing true suburbia in America. And it does not matter if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in the 1950s or in present time like in his directorial debut, American Beauty. He is able to show how people really are and the conversations they might have behind closed doors. Everything may seem perfect, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not.
The other person is Michael Shannon. He plays weird characters and this one is no different. However, he is the only person who sees the truth. His character is considered to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“insaneÃ¢â‚¬Â, but is actually the most sane person in the film. Everything he says has truth to it, and may hit too close to home for Frank and April. He brings up the subject of emptiness and hopelessness that haunts these characters. Sam Mendes loves a story about people. Real people. But he also enjoys a tragedy. There is no happy ending in American Beauty. There is no happy ending in Road to Perdition. And guess what? There is no happy ending on Revolutionary Road.
At The Movies
Revolutionary Road (PG) * * * *
Opening January 9, 2009
Running Time: 119 Minutes
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Reunions are often bittersweet. Worth the wait is the return pairing of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road, a smart journey into what should have been marital bliss from uncompromising director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Able to capture the essence of the human psyche Mendes lets loose with a torrent of rage as two lovebirds hit the proverbial fork in the road in unprecedented fashion. Presented by Paramount Vantage this head-turner is currently causing people to rethink their own heartfelt lives at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
Set in the late 20s Revolutionary Road begins and ends with a pair of lovers going through the motions. You can almost cut the tension with a knife as upscale April and Frank Wheeler do their best to make a life. Jobs are scarce during this era and theatrics are definitely in both peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives. Frank starts out as a playwright with April his feature star. Alas, not all goes as planned so the pair decide to make a break of things, leaving the east coast for the more idyllic life of the mid west.
Once set up in a new city Frank goes to work as a business machine salesman while April tends to two small children. Hopes are high as they have a beautiful new home and new friends. Something, though seems amiss. While Frank does his daily work grind April wants more out of life. This search for happiness begins to overtake both their lives as new friends canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite figure out why the pair seems out of sync.
Dreams die hard and once the bickering on the home front begins itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only a matter of time before the seeds are sown for some pretty big showdowns. Tension reigns down on the neighbourhood as what once was supposed to be the ideal new couple in suburbia becomes the talk of the town. Gossip follows both parents around as the knives and backstabbing begins in this tour de force blueprint for how not to love one another.
Mature performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond) and Kate Winslet (Little Children) prove they are two of the best actors out there. Fans of Titanic will be pleased to see this pair spar/love on screen all over again. Only thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more, lots more, going on with this movie. Thanks to a terrific script Mendes nails down the business and busybody aura of the era with wonderful and fully engaging supporting performances. Issues of minding your own business, health and sexuality all explode on the screen in some very subtle ways.
Quirky turns from Kathy Bates (Misery), David Harbour (Quantum of Solace), Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers) and Michael Shannon (The Woodsman) only add to the impressive delivery of this film sure to garner lots of Oscar recognition this spring.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com