Revolutionary Road

rdo DiCaprio, “Body of Lies”) “” fresh, engaging, handsome “” meets his distaff equivalent at a party and soon she becomes Mrs. April Wheeler (Kate Winslet, “The Reader”).

He’s going to become a big-shot copywriter and she’s a would-be actress. But his job stalls out and she can barely manage community theater talent. He becomes just another face in the crowd, moving herdlike from the subway station to his cubicle, and she bears two kids and becomes imprisoned in the ‘burbs.

Frank doesn’t have enough imagination to envision a life beyond what he has, but April has enough for both of them and he becomes attached to her dream: that they should drop everything and move to Paris. She can support them while he writes his great novel. Goethe said that nothing is more terrible than imagination without talent or discipline, and he didn’t even know the Wheelers.

Then Frank accidentally tosses off an idea at work that strikes upper management as brilliant, and suddenly he’s offered more money and prestige. Suddenly, Paris doesn’t sound so good anymore. April realizes that they really don’t have anything in common while Frank wants to keep what they have, only with more money added to it.

BOREDOM OF LIFE
Director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”) and screenwriter Justin Haythe (“The Clearing”), working from the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, have not shaped a diatribe against the conformity and boredom of life in the suburbs with “Revolutionary Road.” Here they take the idea of the American Dream literally: It’s a dream for most people “” a fantasy that has no hope of coming true. The Wheelers are people who have heard all their lives that they can be anything they want to be if they only want it badly enough and work hard. But it takes more than wishing and work. Some things require specific talents, preparation and good luck.

Michael Shannon (“Bug”) turns in a superb performance as John Givings, son of the Wheelers’ friend and real estate agent Helen (Kathy Bates, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”). John has been in an asylum for some time, and Helen hopes his mental state can be helped if he meets a nice, normal couple like Frank and April. But John turns out to be a Shakespearean fool, the one who speaks his mind and comments on everything he sees, including the tension that has developed between Frank and April. He can’t control his withering commentary, and even Frank has to admit that all is not as thought it was.

This is the kind of movie that gets inside you at 3 a.m. when you can’t go back to sleep because you keep wondering how the hell you got where you are, and who that person in bed next to you really is. It contains more inconvenient truths than you may be comfortable with, and the performances will stay with you for a long time.

“”Doug Bentin

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