Friday, 25 October 2013

Revolutionary Road

2009, 15, Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon  

Sam Mendes directed then-wife Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road, a 50s set rebuttal of the American dream somewhat more notable for pairing Winslet with her former Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. But loved up they ain't as we are introduced to the Wheelers (all too briefly) by way of quick scenes showcasing their blossoming love. Yet Revolutionary Road places the focus on the strain of married life, eight years on. Following a particular rough patch (which sees the acting dreams of Winslet’s Helen realised in an underwhelming manner,) the couple convince themselves that moving from suburbia to Paris may just be the upheaval their lives are in desperate need of. Both actors - as per - are class acts in what is essentially a two-hander with intermittent interruptions from Kathy Bates, as prying neighbour Helen Givings, and her mentally-ill son, John (Michael Shannon, Oscar-nominated in an underplayed yet no less effective role) who sees it as his business to broadly point out some inexplicable home truths to Frank and Helen. The actors and the words they deliver are standout in an otherwise bleak affair that comments on social norms of suburban lifestyles of the 50s. Without a peak or a clear-cut narrative, Revolutionary Road trawls to its downbeat ending as surely as it starts. This is the point; Mendes remains in full charge of the source material (Richard Yates’ 1961 novel) from minute one right through to the subtext-strewn closing shot.