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Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Premise: A young couple (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) living in a suburb in 1950s Connecticut face a midlife crisis as their dissatisfaction with their lives reaches a boiling point. 

What Works: Revolutionary Road is an all around well made film. Kate Winslet drives the picture with her performance as a housewife who feels trapped in her own house and dreams of a better life. Revolutionary Road gives Leonardo DiCaprio the chance to play a jerk, which is something he has never been allowed to do before and he is able to pull it off with sufficient nastiness. But at the same time his nastiness is given context and the picture suggests that he might be a different person in a different environment. As the couple decides to move to France on a whim, the tone of Revolutionary Road takes a radical shift, setting the characters up for a fall, and when they do, that fall is hard as DiCaprio allows his dream of life in Europe to be bought off by the promise of a promotion and more money. Aside from Winslet and DiCaprio’s performances, there is also a terrific supporting role by Michael Shannon as a recently released psychiatric patient who is able to see the insanity of suburban life. He becomes the character who is able to lay out the message of the film and provide the exposition with some very funny moments. 

What Doesn’t: There is very little in Revolutionary Road that hasn’t been seen before in films like American Beauty, If These Walls Could Talk, and Little Children. In many of these films a woman or a couple feel stifled by the superficiality and social pressure of suburbia and try to escape it but rarely, if ever, do the films answer what would happen once the couple got to a new place. Revolutionary Road hints at that answer but no more than any other film. 

Bottom Line: Revolutionary Road is good. Although not much of it is very fresh or original, what is here is well done. 

Episode: #225 (February 1, 2009)