Directed by Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road follows The Wheelers, a couple living in suburban Connecticut. They decide to escape their mundane lives and move to Paris. However, an unplanned pregnancy brings their lives to a halt again.
I always knew this film existed but it never intrigued meme. I initially assumed it was just an uninteresting film trying to milk Leo and Kate’s chemistry. However, I again came across the film recently on the Internet and immediately decided to watch it the next day. Something about people trying to find excitement in life by running away is so fascinating to me. Mostly because often, it comes from running away from your own problems. Revolutionary Road does a great job at highlighting that with its two highly flawed characters. Characters that feel moving to Paris will fix their dysfunctional marriage, their failed aspirations, or help them find purpose.
Maybe Paris could have really fixed everything, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only solution. Which is precisely what makes humans flawed. It’s our irrational expectations from ideas that society instills. Whether it’s living in a suburban neighborhood because apparently, that’s great for living in a community/raising a family. Or getting married to someone you got pregnant with who initially seemed interesting/ambitious. Or moving to Paris because your life in America isn’t what you thought it would be. If anything, I hope to see a similar film that lets the couple initially run away to a new life only to realize their troubles didn’t leave them.
It’s a script very reliant on its characters but unfortunately just pushes them into one situation after another. April, who’s been an actress ever since she met Frank, suddenly drops the idea once she decides to move to Paris. Frank despite working at a seemingly disappointing job changes his mind as soon as a pay raise is offered. April goes 10 whole weeks, 15 minutes in screen time for us (in which we probably see at most three days) until she realizes she’s pregnant. A couple of scenes after that, we soon reach the end of the 12th week which is the tipping point for April.
Above all else, their kids, the reason they feel chained to this suburban life in the first place, are non-existent. I was almost beginning to wonder how they were ever a problem in the first place since they’re conveniently never around their parents. All characters in Revolutionary Road, unfortunately, feel like they’re in situations the plot desperately needs them to be in.
Dripping with chemistry
Watching Kate, Leo and Kathy Bates working together again was a blast. Bates doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but she marks her presence strong. Kate and Leo have undeniable chemistry, whether it’s being in love or being uncomfortably hateful towards one another. But the star of the show is Michael Shannon. He benefits from having an eccentric character, giving him relatively more to play with, but he lives up to expectations from his character. Possibly another victim to mundane suburban life and a loss of purpose, his uncomfortably honest opinions, and the ability to get under everyone’s skin is a sight to behold. Undoubtedly, this cast elevates a script beyond its potential, portraying society’s hypocrisy and a suffocating lifestyle well.
Revolutionary Road feels plot-driven for a story that’s supposed to be about its characters, who are rushed into one situation after another. Its amazing cast carries an unfulfilling script on its shoulders that needs a lot more depth for it to live up to its potential.