Although Richard Yates's novel was published in 1961, Revolutionary Road feels like it was born of a Family Guy joke (the one which depicted Jack surviving the sinking of the Titanic and the lovers turned out just like every other couple) and Mendes's own American Beauty. Set in the mid '50s, the story follows Jack (Di Caprio) and April (Winslet) Wheeler as they move on to the picturesque Revolutionary Road with ideas of being the perfect couple. It's a time when the American Dream (two kids, a house in the suburbs and a Cadillac in the drive) is in full effect... Only Jack and April aren't feeling it; Jack hates his job, April is bored playing the housewife and they're taking it out on each other. When April gets an idea to up sticks and move to Paris, their forgotten love gushes back to the marriage and with, the excitement of a new beginning, they rediscover themselves all over again. However, when Jack is promised a tasty promotion, their new plans go awry... This portrait of a disintegrating marriage and the deconstruction of the American Dream, called here a "hopeless emptiness", is a riveting piece of cinema. There's an eeriness to the proceedings that's hard to nail down as Mendes deliberate pacing allows his characters room to breathe. It's a good decision: Di Caprio continues his 'take me serious as an actor' rebirth and he shines as a man who accepts what is expected of a '50s man, all the while hating every second of it. It's a tough one to pull off and Di Caprio from time to time shows he can do more than just give everyone the frowning of a lifetime. Winslet shines brighter, though, helped that her proto-feminist is a slightly more defined character. The two are believable as a couple coming apart and it's their back-and-forth that make this venture believable. Michael Shannon, as a patient on a day's furlough from a mental institution, steals the two scenes he's in from the film's bankable stars. There is one stickler, however, as Mendes falls foul of Eastwood's crime in Changeling by dragging out the ending: there's a scene close to the finale where the director should have called time, but Mendes keeps the camera rolling for a further ten minutes, wrapping up and spelling out what was best left unsaid.
Watch: Revolutionary Road
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