Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon
Since I enjoyed Mendes’s film American Beauty, I was excited to see another “moody” drama from him but this one is set in the fifties with Winslet and DiCaprio. Was it worth the wait? Revolutionary Road: Blu Ray was recently released on DVD by Paramount Home Video.
Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet) are a typical young 1950’s couple. Frank has a solid job and April is a housewife and mother, although when they met April was pursuing an acting career and Frank was a handsome young soldier. But those dreams were put to the side in pursuit of the “American Dream”.
Now, they are a suburban couple with a beautiful home in Connecticut on Revolutionary Road, the “good” part of the community. They have another young couple as friends for drinks and dinner. Life is good, or is it?
April never expected Frank to “buy in” to the mainstream quite to the extent that he has. He has become nothing more than a “suit chasing money”. She convinces Frank to pull up stakes and move the family to Paris where she can live the “bohemian” lifestyle she has dreamed of. He agrees halfheartedly and allows April to save money and start getting rid of stuff but then changes his mind and dashes her hopes of something more completely.
They bicker, make up and compromise dreams, hopes and ambitions all the while, the two are growing apart and changing into something they never wanted to be in the first place.
Their friend and realtor Helen (Kathy Bates) sees the two as the epitome of happiness and stability, never knowing what goes on behind closed doors. She brings her son John (Michael Shannon), an emotionally troubled man, over so that he can be influenced by their normalcy. It is in this scene in the movie that someone sees behind the veneer of perfection and calls out the couple on their “fakeness”. This is just the beginning of the cracks showing in April and Frank’s lives.
Revolutionary Road features solid performances by DiCaprio and Winslet and Michael Shannon, once again, takes a small part and totally steals the show from the main cast. He is a name to watch. Bates is also solid in her part.
While I enjoyed the film overall, I can’t help but feel that it has an overall feel of “trying too hard”. The performances are good and the art direction and cinematography are flawless, but too often, the film sinks down into melodrama and cliché without any social commentary, wry observation or subtlety. And, that is what keeps this film from working as well as it could.
While the film has its flaws, fans of Winslet and DiCaprio will enjoy it. You don’t have to make room on the shelf for the permanent collection but adding to the Netflix queue wouldn’t hurt.
Revolutionary Road : Blu Ray is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a MPEG-4/AVC transfer. This film looks amazing. There is a stunning amount of clarity to the image, the colors are vibrant and I did not notice any instances of grain or artifacts. This is a first rate transfer of this film.
Revolutionary Road: Blu Ray is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 The dialogue is positively crystal clear and mixed well with the subtle soundtrack. Somehow, even the sound of this film still feels ‘vintage”.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Revolutionary Road: Blu Ray is presented in a standard Blu Ray amaray case.
First up, a commentary with Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe is offered. Lives of Quiet Desperation: the Making of Revolutionary Road is a good albeit standard “making of” featurette featuring cast and crew discussing the film.
Richard Yates: Wages of Truth is a look at the author of the original book upon which the film was based. Rounding things out are several deleted scenes with optional director and screenwriter commentary.
Overall ( Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 6.5/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10