When it was announced that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio would be portraying the lead roles in the film version of Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road, Titanic fans around the world rejoiced at the prospect of Jack and Rose finally getting the happy ending they deserved. However, by the end of this film, the fate of Jack and Rose seems delightful in comparison.
Set in the suburbs of Connecticut in the 1950s, director Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple who feel that they are special compared to their neighbors, successfully evading the ordinariness the suburbs entail. However, April (Kate Winslet), an amateur actress and housewife and Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio), a businessman stuck in a cubicle, discover that if they don’t escape the suburban life on Revolutionary Road, both their marriage and their souls will die.
In an attempt to salvage what’s left of their already crumbling marriage, they fleetingly make the decision to pack up the kids and move to Paris to start a new, adventurous life. But when a series of complications arise, the prospect of Paris begins to seem more like a dream than a reality.
The film’s portrait of an American marriage is negative to say the least. In public and around friends, the Wheelers seem like a charming, sickeningly perfect couple; but at home their tumultuous relationship constantly varies from loving and tender to one of anger and pure hatred. In fact, the two are screaming at each other so often, it’s amazing neither one of them popped a blood-vessel.
What makes Revolutionary Road hard to watch is that the lives of the characters and the dynamics of their relationship seem so real. Couples old and young squirm through every fight the Wheelers have and every audience member questions whether they condemned their own parents to a soul-sucking suburban life like the Wheelers had.
As a form of entertainment, Revolutionary Road is not entertaining to watch; it, in fact, becomes almost painful to make it to the end of this tragic film. But, this grim portrait of the costs of living the “American dream” is a triumph for the Titanic stars, and it is a film any Oscar-buff should see.