I went to see Revolutionary Road last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the chemistry between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio was absolutely brilliant, both playing out the frustration and angst of their individual characters with perfect poise and precision.
Their intense and dramatic relationship was utterly credible, reigniting a truly classic partnership between Winslet and DiCaprio, first seen in their roles of Jack and Rose in The Titanic. 11 years on and Revolutionary Road undoubtedly, in my view, gives them the opportunity to demonstrate once again how natural they are on screen together, dishing out genuine passion and heart-wrenching tension in equal measures.
Set in 1950s Conneticut, the film is a real nostalgic look back to an era where people were happy to conform and utterly believed in the American Dream, where hopes and ambitions meant a nice house in the surburbs, a couple of kids and a white picket-fence. And that’s exactly the life which Frank and April Wheeler find themselves living, and ultimately find themselves wanting to escape from.
Spurred by April’s sudden decision to quit their American life in exchange for an exciting but uncertain future in Paris, they start making the necessary plans for a journey of self-discovery and a chance to fulfil their forgotten dreams. Friends and colleagues are all stunned by their decision and the only person who understands their reasons for wanting an unconventional lifestyle is ironically a mental health sufferer, the son of their earnest estate-agent (Kathy Bates), brilliantly played by Michael Shannon (nominated for best-supporting actor).
Needless to say, things do not go according to plan. An unexpected event throws a destructive spanner in the works and the desperate anxiety which follows is superbly executed by Winslet, helped by the clever direction of husband Sam Mendes (American Beauty). The intimate exchanges between Frank and April are deftly scripted to take us on a totally believable journey of emotions starting with a joyous sense of togetherness, and ending with bitter resentment, resignation and regret.
To sum up, Revolutionary Road is much more than a film about two people falling in and out of love. It is about having the courage and self-belief to step outside the constraints of social norms in order to be true to oneself. Excellent costume and set design will definitely land you straight back into the 1950s but the themes of escape and self-discovery are just as relevant today as they were then.
Not nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars but it definitely gets my vote. Can’t wait to see Kate Winslet again in The Reader!