Many of us have been waiting with bated breath for Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio to reunite again after they were so wonderful in “Titanic”. When we heard that they were finally making a film together we were ecstatic. It was announced that they would play a married couple making us even happier and were dreaming about the ensuing romance. Well, after seeing the film you would have to say it is anything but a romantic film.
Revolutionary Road, based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, would easily make a great play as it has plenty of dialogue and juicy parts for the two leads, but I’m not sure how well it translated into a film. This is despite the fact that both Kate Winslet (the girl can do not wrong) and Leonardo DiCaprio turn in fantastic performances. The verbalizations between all the characters are what make the story electric, but it oftentimes seems to drag out onscreen.
Filled with bleak and torturous moments, the film makes you wonder why the middle class hasn’t been renamed the unhappy class and causes you to question why people get married. There were several points where you were actually wincing. It is, admittedly, effective in its bleakness. Director Sam Mendes (who obviously hates the middle class based on this film and “American Beauty”) has made the choice to focus on the two main characters and the bad parts of their marriage in order to effectively show the pain of an empty marriage.
Young couple, Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet), seems to have what every couple dreams of – a house in the suburbs, two beautiful kids and next-door neighbours who are their best friends. But somehow they are dreadfully unhappy with their lives and marriage. What everyone else believes about them couldn’t be more wrong.
Frank and April dream of being ‘special’ and don’t want to conform to the emptiness and shallowness that is middle class Connecticut. But over the short span of their marriage they have done exactly that which they professed to avoid. They have had a couple of kids, April is bored out of her tree and Frank works in a job he hates.
After another frightenedly cruel argument April comes up with what she believes to be a plan that will save their marriage and sanity. She proposes to Frank that they move to Paris, she get a job and Frank spend the time figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Frank agrees and everything goes along swimmingly for a while…but we all realize that this happiness is transient and is bound to come crashing down. When it finally does it ain’t pretty.
We see two humans struggle with what is inevitably their nature. They cannot escape themselves. It is a huge undertaking to try and live up to your hopes and aspirations for yourself. And when you fail it is not something you get over easily.
Leonardo is excellent as a child in a man’s body. Frank is a man who cannot stick to a plan or not be distracted – whether by a promotion or a girl from the secretary pool. April is a woman ahead of her times. She is a solitary soul who just wants to do what she wants to do. This was not an option for women in the 1950s. Women were housewives and mothers. April wanted more and when she doesn’t get it everyone around her has to suffer. Kate Winslet performance is spot on as the unhappy and bitter wife.
It is 10 years later for Kate and Leo and this time they are the focal points not a huge ship. The romance, drama and excess are gone…stripped away and all that is left is talents of these two fine actors…it is another good film…just don’t expect it to be easy.
-Lives of Quiet Despair: The Making of Revolutionary Road
-Audio Commentary with Sam Mendes and Justin Haythe