Director Sam Mendes works from screenwriter Justin Haythe’s adaptation of Richard Yates’s 1961 novel, to create another stunning work of suburban angst and dissatisfaction with marital conformity with Revolutionary Road.
Audiences didn’t take to its blunt, piercing approach, however I found Revolutionary Road to be an enlightening tale that broke apart many of the illusions I personally had of 1950s life and culture. It successfully pinpoints the complexities of marriage, and refuses to pull any punches.
The film is the story of the seemingly content young married couple, Frank and April Wheeler, and their two young children. The pair met in New York City just after World War II, when Frank was a returning veteran and April a struggling actress. They fell in love, were married and moved to a home in Connecticut, on a street called Revolutionary Road. Frank settled into an office job with a company in the city and April became the reluctant housewife, putting her career on hold.
The couple have their good and bad times – loving, arguing and fighting. With time, Frank quickly adjusts to his daily monotony, and starts to resent April for her artistic aspirations and for not being as practical as he is. April is more of a free spirit, and wants to move the family to Paris and live more of a Bohemian lifestyle.
After initially agreeing to the move, based solely on April’s whim, Frank’s reluctance begins to show, and he willingly gets weighted down by the offer of a promotion and substantial raise at his job. Tension quickly boils over in their marriage, as April struggles with the reality of their so-called “normal” life, and Frank finds it harder to control his own dissatisfaction with their marriage, and soon a pretty young secretary at work – a place that has become his refuge from a failing home life – catches his eye.
The drama and tension are searing, as I wondered and hoped that somehow everything would work itself out. A strong film with even stronger performances, Revolutionary Road captures the essence of what can happen to artistic passion when it’s thrust into a makeshift marriage built on ideas and convenience, instead of compatibility.
The Revolutionary Road Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the following special features, which, it’s worth noting, are all presented in high definition (accept of course for the audio commentary):
- Audio commentary by director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe
- Lives of Quite Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road, which includes observations by the actors, the director and others involved with the film.
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe.
- Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth (HD) is a twenty-six-minute featurette about the book’s author, which was quite interesting and revealing.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Justin Haythe, Richard Yates (novel)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet