Revolutionary Road is the film adaptation of Richard Yates‘ novel of the same title. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and is directed by Sam Mendes. I haven’t read the novel [yet], but if you’re looking for a comparison between the two, I thought this article very enlightening [includes spoilers].
April (Kate Winslet) and Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) are living the Suburban Dream(tm). But both are really unhappy, having imagined a different life for themselves, with great accomplishments. Slowly, they make their lives a living hell for each other until April’s suggestion to move to Paris seems to liberate both.
It’s a wonderful movie from start to finish. Very sad, very interesting and deep [I mean that in the good sense], perfectly acted and set in scene.
[SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS]
I expected a lot from this movie. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are two very strong actors, and from Titanic we know that they have a good chemistry as well. Sam Mendes is a very good director. And of course, the Oscar nominations and Golden Globe nominations/wins had no small part in making me excited to see this film.
And the good thing is: I really wasn’t disappointed.
The story itself is depressing as hell. I mean, I knew that I wasn’t in for a comedy and the way the tension grew it was clear that it could only end in a catastrophe. The abortion sucker thingy [whatever it’s called] was introduced like Chekhov’s Gun and it was clear to anybody who had ever heard the term that it would get its use. But still, suicide by abortion? Not a good way to go.
The acting was wonderful. I mean, Kate Winslet really has to kick ass in The Reader to justify that she hasn’t been Oscar nominated for this one. And I can’t believe that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get nominated at all. They both were great and absolutely honest in their performance. [If that makes any sense.]
But apart from the main characters, the supporting cast was really cool. Michael Shannon [who, thank you, got a nomination] as the mad man who says aloud what the modern day audience is thinking [or was that just me?] really was John Givings. Kathy Bates as the perpetually joyful neighbour, who sees the world as it fits her was amazing. I could watch a spin-off with the interaction of those two, no problem. David Harbour and Kathryn Hahn as the Campbells were great.
I especially liked the Campbells as a plot device. They lead a pretty similar life like the Wheelers and – while they probably won’t get a happiness award anytime soon – are mostly content with their situation. Thus they show us that maybe the problem itself isn’t the suburbs but the expectations one has of what life is supposed to be like.
Of course, John Givings is another very good plot device, confronting the Wheelers and insisting on absolute honesty, at least with each other.
Sam Mendes is just a really good director. As in American Beauty, he manages to capture the claustrophobia of a relationship that isn’t anymore, not really, perfectly. I’m really looking forward to seeing Middlemarch.
I know that I’m only singing praise here. But I can’t really find anything to fault about the movie. In fact, I haven’t even mentioned the best part about it yet: Thomas Newman‘s score. I want to spread it on the floor and roll around in it. I want to wrap it around me and go to bed with it. I want to have its children. No matter what I can think of, I want to do it with this score.
Not only does it fit the movie perfectly, it’s also beautiful in itself. And I’m forever its slave, I’m afraid.
[Another thing I can’t believe: While I did like the soundtrack for Wall-E, it wasn’t as good as this one, imo. Therefore, Thomas Newman should get the Oscar nomination for Revolutionary Road and not for Wall-E.]
So to summarise: A must see movie, in my opinion. Even if you’re thinking that the plot’s nothing for you, you’re in for a treat when you’re watching it. Because it is both a great film with glorious performances and a good starting point for deep(er) thinking.