Directed by: Sam Mendes

Written by: Justin Haythe

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn

Rating: [4.5/5]

Nothing quite signals stepping into the passage of boring adulthood than moving out from the city and buying a house in the suburbs. It means you trade in the accessibility of nightlife and the fervor of youth for real estate and dreaded responsibility. Revolutionary Road demonstrates how this retreat into the mundanity of suburbia can develop into a personal hell for these characters and a prison they cannot escape. 

Meeting at a party and quickly falling for each other April (Kate Winslet) and Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) now live in a desirable neighborhood with the perfect lifestyle emulating the American dream with the house and two kids. However, Frank hates his job, and April desires more than just the boring daily cycle she has found herself in. This leads them to make a major decision to try and shake up their lives. 

As someone who just recently bought his first house in the suburbs, aspects of Revolutionary Road felt like a personal attack on people like me and the lifestyle I elected. However, while this feature seeks to have a larger discussion about the circumstance, it provides an individualized look at both of these characters and how this way of living has harmed them on a psychological and emotional level. Frank finds himself running the same rat race as his father as he thought he would be more than just a man clocking in and out of a job as he nears his 30s. April wished to succeed as an actor before getting giving it all up to live this domesticated life signifying the promises of success. They should theoretically have everything they need, but they admit they need more and this feature does so well in demonstrating how this life can become a trap where safety becomes paramount and too much risk should be avoided. 

The big decision of the film comes in the form of selling everything and moving to Paris. A choice like this certainly raises eyebrows amongst those around them because decisions of this sort typically get made by people in their early 20s with no real attachments or anything tying them down. Considering these two own a home, Frank has a successful job, and they have two kids makes this decision incredibly outlandish but it ultimately serves the very point of what this film seeks to display. The initial excitement of leaving and doing something worthwhile even if it does not represent the picturesque ideal of a successful family creates some energy but the inevitable brick wall arrives with the reality of the obstacles ahead of them. A reality where dreaming can no longer exist because you have to worry about paying the bills and ensuring the kids receive a good education. Frank and April have forfeited the ability to do this and this fact tears them apart internally until it begins to gush out to the surface. 

Many have described this feature as an alternate-world sequel of Jack and Rose in Titanic where they both survive the tragic event and decide to get married and move out to the suburbs. As much as that exists as a fan-fiction idea, given the limited amount of time Jack and Rose spent together to fall in love, I can see where it could create an interesting reading. However, this mostly exists as a thought because this film serves as the first and only reunification of DiCaprio and Winslet since their team-up in the 1997 classic. They certainly get plenty to chew on in this feature even if the screenplay and direction certainly play into the melodrama of this situation aplenty. Seriously, this film contains so many scenes where these two yell at each other as they have their boisterous fights. Filled with several “Oscar clips,” the amount of yelling had me in moments forget these two have kids and made me wonder exactly where they are during all of these arguments. DiCaprio and Winslet certainly do well in portraying these fiery characters and help bring something firm throughout even if we do get swept away in all of the melodrama involved. 

On a visual level, this feature does a stellar job of contrasting the moods of these characters and one of the major elements come from the costume design. When observing all of these characters, they all have this lifeless energy to them and their beige clothing exemplifies it. The walls, furniture, and clothing match this making for a purposefully drab environment and then in the moments where April basks in the possibility of moving to Paris, she wears these pops of blue sticking out amongst all of the lifeless vessels around her. Almost like a beacon of light in the darkness, her wardrobe certainly aligns with her will and overall mood of where she’s at in life and it stands out beautifully in the film. 

As much as I love the quiet suburban life seeing as it vibes with my personality and interests, Revolutionary Road certainly makes the case of how this could be a nightmare for others. Not only because of the difficulty in doing things more accessible in the city but how it represents a distinct lifestyle change and overall outlook in life someone like April never wants to conform to. It does not come down to money or events but a way of living not designed for everyone and the lengths this film goes to display this disconnect allows for some harrowing moments truly packing a punch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: