Revolutionary Road is essentially a reworking of 1998‘s The Truman Show, instead using themes of abstract (rather than literal) confinement.
The film’s lack of linear plot renders it rather difficult to describe. It spends very little time with back-story, instead choosing to jump directly into what might be termed the conflict. This permeates every part of the film, never allowing the characters or the audience a chance to catch their breath.
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio play ‘50s suburban couple April and Frank Wheeler, who are surrounded by a contrived world that offers them only enough individuality to foster complacency. Their existence in this white-bread life revolves around their own perceived superiority.
When they realize they are in danger of surrendering the rest of their lives to a mind-numbing humdrum existence, they make spontaneous plans to move to Paris.
It is probably a stretch to call this the plot of the movie, but it is the best that can be done. The majority of the scenes occur independently of this thread-thin plot line, and many seemingly act as redundant filler scenes. For the most part, the film is simply an uninvolved observer to their sepia-toned suffering.
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) obviously expected the film’s themes to be significant, but instead they come across as dull, familiar and unimpressive. The typical representation of overwrought emotions results in a rather unsympathetic audience. The film is saved by dedicated performances by Winslet and DiCaprio, who are a credit to their profession with the electricity they bring to the roles.
Revolutionary Road uses futile displays of anger to question the subjectivity of love, happiness and contentedness, but falls flat on all counts. All in all, it’s not a very accessible film. It’s simply an exploration of the stifled desperation and permeating ineffectuality of people.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at email@example.com.