How do you break free without breaking apart?
Running Time: 119 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
I liked pretending while I was watching Revolutionary Road that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio were really playing out what would have happened in Titanic if it hadnt been for that pesky iceberg. Maybe that exposes me as a cynical girl, but heres the thingI didnt necessarily enjoy this film, but I watched it with interest, almost like a horrible car crash. You just know nothing good can come of it, yet you watch to see just how awful its going to get.
To all their friends and colleagues, April and Frank Wheeler (Winslet and DiCaprio) are the ideal couplebut behind closed doors, nothing is as it seems. Once passionate and idealistic, now theyre in their early 30s, with Frank locked into a successful but unfulfilling career and April stuck at home raising two kids. But April has an ideaditch the stifling suburbia that surrounds them and run off to Paris to find their passion again. Thrilled by the prospect at first, reality soon hits, and as the Wheelers’ see their dreams slipping away, they become increasingly desperate to hold on to them any way they can.
Now, when I said awful before, I didnt mean to imply the film is awfulits actually quite good. The awful Im talking about is the awful that becomes of the Wheelers lives. Kate and Leo are obviously very comfortable with each other, and all that chemistry they had during that big boat flick is still evident here, only in a reverse Bizarro wayWinslet is getting a lot of well-earned praise, but DiCaprio brings something to Frank that lends him an unexpected sympathy. Their fights are mean and hateful and way melodramatic, which is exactly what you expect from self-absorbed thirtysomethings with dreams of grandeur and nothing to back those dreams up. It takes a special sort of delusion to believe that, though youre not sure what your talent really IS, somehow you are unique for the simple fact that you KNOW youre above the droning masses. Characters this focused on themselves are generally hard to relate to, but theres a familiar desperation that keeps us watching, even when we feel intrusive. Credit goes to director Sam Mendes as well, who harkens back to his classic of family dysfunction, American Beauty, without actually making this a redux (also, as a side note, this movie looks spectacular and should win some sort of Art Direction award). And Michael Shannon, as neighbor home from the loony bin John, may only have less than ten minutes of screen time, but Id watch him in anything, and his scathing last lines encapsulate the entire film. This isnt a feel good movie, its not a romance, and I have my doubts that the characters ever loved each other even in the beginning, but its real and raw.
It's Got: Real fights, Michael Shannon, Great sets.
It Needs: To have gotten the accolades that seem to have gone to The Reader, Not to be seen by unhappy couples.
It doesnt leave you feeling particularly optimistic about love, but Revolutionary Road is well acted and directed, and its good to see Winslet and DiCaprio together again, even like this.