DIR: Sam Mendes • WRI: Justin Haythe • PRO Gina Amoroso, Bobby Cohen, Karen Gehres, John Hart, Sam Mendes, Scott Rudin • DOP: Roger Deakins • ED: Tariq Anwar • DES: Kristi Zea • CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn
Reuniting Titanic’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet may seem like a joyous occasion to many an unsuspecting cinemagoer. In truth, Revolutionary Road has no connection to the word joyous, so much so that said cinemagoers may regret ever wanting any such reunion.
Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road has long since been considered classic literature, an insightful look at the unrealised aspirations of Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple unhappily confined to live a life of suburban ‘normality’. The novel reads as a moving portrayal of humanity’s struggle against society. The film reads as a Tennessee Williams’ knock-off. Lost in translation is the insight to these characters, leaving the audience lost in the whirlwind of arguments, moments of temporary happiness, affairs and then some more arguments. This is not helped by the central performances of DiCaprio and Winslet, who had the rather innovative (if largely unsuccessful) idea to play Frank and April Wheeler as a couple so accustomed to their monotonous days that life has become a continual performance. This method affords both actors to give two impressive performances, but leaves the audience without any reliable basis to root for any ‘escape’ discussed by the couple. Surely a simple narration would resolve any such issue? Regardless, without this support, the film develops into a melodramatic offering with a handful of unintentionally laughable moments, more likely to become a camp classic than a critical success similar to Mendes’ last foray into suburban America, American Beauty.
Still, the cast are watchable (especially the Oscar®-nominee Michael Shannon), Mendes’ retains his impressive visuals and its camp quality will undoubtedly be a desirable aspect for many cinemagoers.