Nearly a decade after American Beauty, director Sam Mendes returns to the suburbs for another tale of quiet desperation, only this one is far more bleak. There's little redemption in Revolutionary Road, only crushed hopes and profound unhappiness. Seeing this flick is not a wise choice for a first date.
Yet the adaptation of the 1961 William Yates novel is remarkably tough to turn away from, thanks to some remarkable performances led by that Titanic reunion you may have heard about.
Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) sells office machines in a '50s corporate America that smacks of Mad Men. Wife April (Kate Winslet) tends to the couple's idyllic home in a Connecticut suburb.
Unfulfilled in their surroundings - and their icy marriage - April hatches an adventurous plan. The two will leave their comfortably stagnate life behind and move to Europe, a warming glimmer of hope that soon fades.
At times, Revolutionary Road offers the sort of voyeuristic discomfort of watching a couple fighting in public, yet it's oddly fascinating to see the distance between Frank and April shrink before it expands into a chasm.
Mendes tears down the perfect-couple delusions right out of the gate, creating a playground of which his actors take full advantage. DiCaprio combs through the layers of a character who simultaneously seems to want to destroy and rebuild his marriage, but the film belongs to Winslet as she stares into the "hopeless emptiness" of April's dilemma.