Review – Revolutionary Road (Blu-ray)

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road (Blu-ray)

Release Date: June 2, 2009
Own it on Blu-ray and DVD

Director: Sam Mendes

Writers: Justin Haythe (screenplay), Richard Yates (novel)

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates

MPAA Rating: R

HoboTrashcan’s Rating:

When times get tough, we’ve all fantasized about escaping the tedium of everyday life to pursue our wildest dreams. Some dream of running away to join the circus or painting a masterpiece or backpacking through Europe.

Whatever your dream may be, chances are you’ve put some serious thought into leaving your current life behind to achieve it. But then, reality sets in and most of us go back to our daily grind, chalking up those thoughts as nothing more than a pipe dream.

Set in the 1950s, Revolutionary Road is the story of an unhappy couple who contemplate leaving the world they know in search of happiness. Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) aren’t content with their suburban lifestyle, so April suggests they relocate to France, where April can make good money as a secretary while Frank stays home with the kids and figures out what he truly wants to do with his life. April believes Frank is destined for great things and knows he hates his current job, so she thinks this is the only way for him to tap in to his potential. Frank loves the idea and agrees that they should move forward with it.

However, as time goes on, life starts getting in the way of their plan. Frank’s sudden good fortunes at work and an unexpected complication in the Wheeler’s personal lives begin to put a damper on things. April is still determined to follow through with their plan, but Frank begins to have doubts.

It’s a simple story that is told in an incredibly plausible way. Frank and April Wheeler feel like real people and the film feels like a true story. We are flies on the wall; nosey neighbors peering in through their window to eavesdrop on their personal problems. While I’m not a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, both he and Kate Winslet do amazing jobs in their roles. You truly get a sense that they were two people who once truly loved each other, but who are now struggling to remain happy.

This is the duo’s first film together since Titanic and in many ways it feels like a complete 180 from that film. While Titanic showed a very idealistic and oversimplified love story, Revolutionary Road is a story about real love and the struggles that average couples face. It shows what would happen if Jack and Rose both made it off the boat and spent a few years living together in suburbia.

The supporting cast is also very strong. Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of Elia Kazan, is memorable and charming in her role as Maureen Grube, a secretary who catches Frank’s eye at work. Kathy Bates is great as Helen Givings, the real estate woman who sells the Wheelers their house on Revolutionary Road. She likes the Wheelers so much that she continually comes by to visit them and even brings her family over to have dinner at their house. Michael Shannon, who plays Helen’s mentally-unstable son John, steals every scene he is in. His performance is quite possibly the best in the entire film.

The film is brilliantly shot and the beautiful landscapes really shine on Blu-ray. The whole movie was shot on location, without the use of sound stages, which really adds a nice visual element to the film. The film also has a very realistic look to it – instead of the overly glossy and polished look you see in certain films, Revolutionary Road doesn’t shy away from showing you the gritty details of each location or the lines and imperfections in the actor’s faces, which is a nice and refreshing touch.

The DVD and Blu-ray release of the film include audio commentary, deleted scenes and two documentaries. The first documentary, entitled Lives of Quiet Desperation, is a 30-minute making-of featurette. It’s a pretty straightforward featurette, but it does reveal the passion that Kate Winslet had for this film (which she won a Golden Globe for). It’s also interesting to see how she got Leonardo DiCaprio and her husband Sam Mendes involved in the film.

The second documentary is a very well executed 30-minute biography of Richard Yates, who wrote the novel Revolutionary Road. Entitled Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth, it’s a very well balanced look at Yates’ life, which featured interviews with his family members and friends. While they all certainly speak very highly of Yates as a writer and as a man, they don’t shy away from touching on his anger, alcoholism and mental problems. It’s a fascinating look at an often overlooked great American author and it’s definitely worth watching.

Overall, Revolutionary Road is a dark film, but it touches on themes we can all relate to. I found myself really drawn into the story and really attached to the characters, even though it’s a very dark and somewhat pessimistic film. The movie itself is worth watching and the Yates documentary was a wonderful touch. I highly recommend purchasing Revolutionary Road.

Revolutionary Road

Written by Joel Murphy. Revolutionary Road is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

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