Revolutionary Road

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 10:54 am

The perfect couple living in the perfect house in a perfect suburb? Not quite. April (Kate Winslet) and Frank’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) marriage unravels when a desperate plan to change their “perfect” lives becomes their last hope to escape lives actually engulfed in emptiness. Sam Mendes helms this heartrending, razor-sharp glance at the 1950s American Dream — behind the picture window. Michael Shannon and Kathy Bates co-star.

Reunite the two stars of the biggest movie in history, add the writer/director of one of the most in depth portraits of modern American suburban life and you get what should be a sure fire mixture for movie success.  While Revolutionary Road does not quite hit all the right notes like American Beauty does, it comes close.

Writer/director Sam Mendes (who also happens to be married to Kate Winslet) paints the late 50s era with a harsh and muted brush.  But sometimes, the painted is just a little too stark for it’s own good.  Winslet’s April starts out as a semi-likable character who is just looking for more out of life than the drone of suburbia, but by the end of the film, she actually becomes unlikable.  She is written to emote sympathy for her plight of being stuck in a life she hates, but Winslet’s performance just comes off as flat and emotionless. When she emotes the line “I don’t feel anything” in response to the revelation she has been cheated on, you believe it. 

DiCaprio, by comparison, is spot on accurate with his portrait of a man torn between wanting to live out his dreams and wanted to stay grounded.  You can feel every single conflict he is suffering through, starting with his arrival home after cheating on April, only to find his wife and kids waiting for him with a birthday party.  The pain of knowing what he has done just flushes over the actors face.

In the end, you just don’t care what happens to these people, and in a movie that is based on the viewer going along for the emotional ride, this is a very bad thing. It’s a roller coast ride that just goes no where, even with DiCaprio’s first rate performance. 

Now, I want to talk a little about the ending (don’t worry, not going to give anything away).  I think this movie would have worked so much better and on such a better level if the ending had been different.  No matter what your feelings on the issue, I think Mendes should have left the ending open, with the viewer not knowing what the decision was (much in the way Up In The Air was done).  By knowing, it takes much of the emotional steam out of the film. 

This film is recommended for fans of heavy drama (if you liked American Beauty you will like this movie) and fans of DiCaprio, because to me, this is his best performance since The Beach.


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