Kate and Leo are reunited for the first time since Titanic, portraying the perfect couple in this film about the death of love and marriage. As a perfect couple, they revel in the envy of those around them, but their thin veneer of pretence doesn’t last long before Frank’s (Leo) self centred monologue and violent outbursts kick in, fuelled by April’s (Kate) lack of communication or compassion.
Living the perfect life in the perfect house is suburban 1950’s America isn’t the life they had dreamed off. The artisan life was in their blood and Paris was calling, but societal pressure and the lack of anyone influential in their lives that wasn’t self-centred (and jealous) only enabled Frank’s manipulative ways to be an escape to hide behind his fears of the unknown.
As if to force the point home, Director Sam Mendes takes us on an excruciatingly slow ride through the gradual implosion of marriage and relationships. This movie, or at least the source material, is designed to offer no hope for love, romance or dreams.
There is however a ray of light, which shines brilliantly and almost single handily, saves the movie from being a self-serving prophet of doom. Enter stage right John Givings, a mental disturbed patient on a four-hour pass from the asylum. Givings, suffering more from the archaic electric shock treatments given to ‘cure’ insanity that any real for of mental illness can see the world clearly, and is enamoured with April and Frank as they lay out their plans for leaving their pointless and empty existence behind. Givings congratulates them for being honest enough to admit what everyone knows but no one is brave enough to face: no one is happy in this sterile, safe, consumer society.
In this, the movie has a brave message, almost Biblical, as Giving’s parents try and quite their grown son from his ‘insane rantings,’ the saying ‘A Prophet is never welcome in his home town comes to mind.’ But it’s more than giving a crazy man the only ounce of sanity in the movie, it’ about being passionate and dreaming. These are the things that our fake consumer driven society lacks, driven by our own needs to look and feel perfect, we bury ourselves in product and hide our raw, honest feelings from everyone, even form our selves.
In the end, the movie does pick up it’s pace and Mendes sets up a riveting, edge-of-your-seats climax that you didn’t see coming. It’s a breathtaking piece of film that finally shows some acting talents besides the role of the crazy man.
Revolutionary Road isn’t an easy film to watch, but it does offer up plenty to think about afterwards, if you can cut through the anti-marriage, love cannot prevail, bias.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: R16 – Contains violence, offensive language & sex scenes.
Duration: 119 mins.
Genre: Drama, Adaptation.
Director: Sam Mendes.
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon.
Release Date: 22 January, 2009.