The Story: Revolutionary Road tells the story of the Wheelers, Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet). To their friends and neighbors they’re the perfect 1950s couple living the American Dream. In order to recapture their deteriorating romance the two decide to move to Paris and live on their own clock. When April becomes pregnant though Frank puts the plan on hold and the two do nothing but argue leading April to make a tragic decision that will change everyone.
Pros: Director Sam Mendes has made one of my favorite movies of all time and another one that I really enjoyed in American Beauty and Jarhead respectively. In Revolutionary Road his filmmaking style has not changed leading him to capture some beautiful and haunting images, very reminiscent of scenes in last years Atonement. The story of a young couple in 1950s Connecticut is also interesting because he brings up many discussions that couples probably had in that time period, such as dealing with children and being in jobs they hate. The film takes a lot of time in having the two discuss this and give you a peek into their private lives. The middle of the movie is really the best with the incredibly heated arguments between April and Frank where the dialogue gets really good and the performances are even better.
Cons: Honestly, aside from the things mentioned above, I hated Revolutionary Road. It’s a shame really because I wanted to love it. Not only did Mendes direct it but it reunited Kate Winslet and Leonard DiCaprio after their Titanic days. If Revolutionary Road taught me anything it’s thank God they didn’t get married in Titanic because I think this would have been the sequel. Mendes seems to craft a weaker, younger version of American Beauty, even using the exact same music almost. April and Frank are nothing short of unlikable and their fights prove this with them saying the most horrible things to each other, honestly I went and saw this with my mother and she didn’t know any couple who would have stayed together. It doesn’t help matter that Mendes only spends about two minutes showing how they fall in love so by the end you have no idea why they got married in the first place because you never see the love. The movie also meanders without getting to the point. There’s a lot of long, drawn out conversations about the exact same thing without moving the story forward. If you asked me what the point of all the side characters were I wouldn’t know because everyone just talks about the same thing. I didn’t read the book the movie is based on and I’m not sure if that would have helped at all. All the characters deliver their lines like they’re reading the book, and it’s almost like they think they’re making a play. The ending of this movie will also either break your heart or just irritate you, I had the latter reaction. It’s hard to feel for April’s decision at the end because she spends so much time talking about how her children were a mistake, so it’s hard to figure out whether she’s just heartless or crazy. The worst scene has to be after the two have a horrible 15 minute argument and then cut to a perfect breakfast scene. It’s real easy to make fun of it because DiCaprio doesn’t see what’s right in front of him. I understand Mendes was trying to make a point but it just makes DiCaprio look like an idiot.
Acting: The acting in this is all over the place. DiCaprio has given some amazing performances; unfortunately this is not one of them. He opens the movie with a delivery that makes him seem incredibly stiff and wooden, almost like he’s reading the script. There are also moments where he seems to be channeling Jack Nicholson in his mannerisms and dialogue, it’s incredibly distracting. I also don’t understand why Mendes makes him say his wife’s name in every sentence, we know who she is. Kate Winslet gives the only natural performance as April, but her character is so unlikable it’s hard to enjoy her performance. Michael Shannon gives a hilarious turn as the son of Kathy Bates’s character. He is the audience and says everything you want to say which makes the movie a bit more tolerable. Sadly he isn’t in the movie enough. Kathy Bates gives a scenery chewing performance that’s just annoying and Kathryn Hahn is just over the top and reminiscent of SNL alum Ana Gasteyer.
Overall: I really wanted Revolutionary Road to be good but it’s nothing but a two hour mess of mean characters. You will be wondering throughout the movie, “Why the hell did these two get married.” I give it a 2/5.