Friday, 30 January 2009


In 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet wooed audiences across the globe when they played two young lovers torn apart by class, moral obligations and of course the sinking of a 46,000 tonne ocean liner known as the Titanic.

The film went on to break Oscar history – claiming 14 awards, including Best Film and Director. In Revolutionary Road – the pair are back although not even an iceberg is going to help forge the pieces of their broken and complicated relationship.

In a nutshell, the story is about Frank (DiCaprio) and April Wheeler (Winslet) - a married couple who move to an American suburb in Connecticut to raise their two children.

But not everything is perfect behind the manicured lawns and white picket fences - April is a failed actress, struggling to accept her role as mother and fixated on moving to Paris. Frank, on the other hand, is just as gravely disappointed with life. Working for the same computer firm as his late father and unfulfilled by the simplicity of suburban living, like April, he struggles to find his identity.

This is familiar territory for American Beauty director Sam Mendes – who has almost created a 1950s version of his 1999 breakthrough movie, even using Thomas Newman again to pen a haunting musical score.

But while American Beauty enjoyed exploiting human perversity among its central characters, Revolutionary Road is more subtle – with explosive arguments and unassuming gestures leaving viewers to stir on the ‘whys’ behind the two characters actions.

It is a sad, disturbing film, with very little humour, and runs similar to a play with the majority of scenes taking place inside the home and away from the two children.

Kathy Bates and Michael Shannon (nominated for best supporting actor) provide excellent supporting roles as the idealistic but deluded all-American mother and the slightly psychotic but completely honest son.

Unfortunately, unlike Titanic, the period in which it is set seems to spoil the film as many of its themes are outdated and would fail to shock an audience in the same way it would have done when the 1961 book in which it was based was released.

Undoubtedly, DiCaprio and Winslet give powerhouse performances and Mendes direction veers the story away from just plain, simple melodrama.

But Revolutionary Road is far from revolutionary – with a story likely to move you but certainly not on a titanic scale.

Rating: * * *

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