Screaming, yelling, breaking furniture, soul-sucking jobs, mental illness, infidelity: Revolutionary Road is not your typical holiday season movie. Don't be fooled by the Kate-Winslet-and-Leonardo-Di-Caprio pairing -- this is not Titantic.
Frank and April Wheeler are two bright young things in 1950s New York City who fall in love, get pregnant and move out to suburbia with stars in their eyes. But seven or so years later, the daily commute and absurd office nonsense is doing Frank in. Back home, April feels bored and stifled by domestic life, aching over both of their unmet potential. As she energizes Frank and they start to claw their way out, real life sets in and throws every single roadblock imaginable in their way. There's many Mad Men parallels in the analyses of post-war life, but ultimately, Revolutionary Road is just a portrait of a straining marriage: it's about the capacity that two people who are in love have to be cruel to each other.
Both Frank and April are complicated humans, with neuroses and needs which don't quite fit in suburbia, and both actors do their characters justice as they flail about in their domestic hell. Sitting in the audience, your alliances will switch every 10 minutes or so -- but at heart you'll be rooting for them both. The film is headed for an Oscar, hopefully for Winslet, who is a breathtakingly talented actress. It's so refreshing, albeit sad, to see a fully developed female character from 1950s America onscreen. (We kept thinking about the poet Sylvia Plath, who eventually committed suicide by putting her head in a gas oven.)
We read one review of the film which joked that readers of Revolutionary Road the book must have had no idea how much yelling goes on in the text. It's true. If your body doesn't instinctively clench up with tension during half this movie, you're not human.
But we also walked out of the theater thinking, 'I wish I love someone enough some day to scream at them like that.'