Movie Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and David Harbour

Directed by: Sam Mendes

A young couple living the suburban life during the 1950’s struggle to come to terms with their problems as their marriage is in dire need of saving. They decide to try and follow their goals and move away to find meaning in their lives but something unexpected derails their plans.

Revolutionary Road is one of those movies that I’d usually watch without even thinking about it. Just take a look at the cast and the movie oozes talent with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, David Harbour and Kathy Bates all featuring but there was just something about this film that put me off from watching it until now. If I had to think about a particular reason as to why I’ve swerved on the opportunity to watch this movie I think it’s due its Academy Award nominations. While the Oscars are a celebration of the talent and skill that go into producing the countless movies that get released each year, they generally honour a certain type of movie more often than not and I’ve found in watching some movies based on Oscar nominations alone to not always be rewarding. At times I feel that the Academy only recognises very artsy movies which can be quite pretentious but with all that being said, I’m a big fan of DiCaprio so I felt that I had to put my personal opinions to one side and check out one of only a few movies of his that I hadn’t seen yet.

The story follows Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet) Wheeler who are living the idyllic suburban life with their two children. Only problem is that the suburban life they are living isn’t the life that they saw themselves having and have reached a crossroads and feel as though they need a change in order to chase their dreams. April decides that she wants to move to Paris and start afresh and Frank is at first reluctant and hesitant but comes round to the idea of living in France to try and find purpose to his otherwise mundane work life. With unforeseen events coming up before they leave for Paris, the Wheeler’s are stuck between a rock and a hard place on what to do next and whether to stay or continue on with their plans.

With such an incredible cast you’d expect great displays in acting and that’s exactly what we get with each character. DiCaprio and Winslet share some great chemistry just like they did in Titanic and are a really good on screen couple. Some of their scenes are filled with deep and raw emotion as they take shots at each other and their acting skill and talent really sucks you into each scene. As good as both the leads actors were, Michael Shannon was definitely the best performer for me. He has a relatively small role as he plays the son of the estate agent who sold the Wheeler’s their home and remained friends with them. Michael Shannon plays John and he is considered insane as he is mentally “unwell” and is the only person who seems capable of speaking their mind whether it’s what people want to hear or not. I was surprised to see that he received an Oscar nomination for his role as it was incredibly small considering the amount of screen time he received compared to the movie’s runtime but it was definitely a deserved nomination for sure.

My main critique of Revolutionary Road was the story didn’t really have much depth to it. There wasn’t really anything that happened of any real note as the movie just kind of passed by without much drama except for right at the very end in the last couple of scenes. I just felt that such incredible acting work was let down by a wafer thin and minimalist story which was a bit of a shame as it really brought down my enjoyment of what could’ve been a sensational movie had the story been better thought out.

Overall, Revolutionary Road possessed a great display of acting talent from all involved right the way from the top billed stars to the bottom. Unfortunately the movie was hurt by a lack of a strong story to equal the quality of the cast.


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