DiCaprio, Winslet deliver in suburban 1950s drama

Strong performances by Titanic alumni sustain slow screenplay

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road

WAS THAT A BEAR? Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio rekindle their cinematic romance in the Golden Globe winning Revolutionary Road in theatres Friday.

Revolutionary Road
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

4 stars

The highly anticipated reunion of Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet proves to be nothing short of a success, though they assume quite different roles in Revolutionary Road â€" the latest work from director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead).

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Richard Yates, the film follows a young couple in suburban Connecticut during the mid-1950s. Frank and April Wheeler (DiCaprio and Winslet) meet and instantly connect due to their desires to obtain the most from life by doing extraordinary things. Both have their own dreams and the drive to follow through with them.

The two temporarily settle down into a suburban lifestyle, while Frank works at a monotonous job and April stays home to raise their children. Though their neighbours all remark on how the Wheelers appear special, the couple begins to feel as though they have become just the same as everyone else.

Frustrated that they have settled down to a life they once mocked, their relationship takes a downward spiral involving vicious arguments and cruel betrayals. The film chronicles the deterioration of their marriage as a result of their inability to feel superior to the mediocrity that surrounds them.

DiCaprio and Winslet both deliver unforgettable performances that display their wide range of acting abilities. Both actors play the part of the loving and spiteful spouse equally well â€" Winslet recently grabbed the Golden Globe Award in the Best Actress category for the film, with DiCaprio falling just short of a win despite being nominated.

Mendes directs the characters with a realistic approach allowing most viewers to relate in some way to this dysfunctional suburban family. He also includes flashbacks throughout the film of how Frank and April first met, showing they were once madly in love and had the world at their fingertips.

One drawback to the film is its screenplay, which may move too slowly to keep some viewers captivated. With different actors in the lead roles, the movie may have been an ordinary portrayal of a problematic marriage in mid-20th century suburbia. Thankfully, DiCaprio and Winslet bring uniqueness to the set in their acting capabilities and deliver the strongest performances of the film when on-screen together.

Also, in typical Mendes fashion, the film features some quirky scenes and a few bizarre supporting characters, such as fellow Titanic alum, Kathy Bates.

The film leaves a profound impact on the audience long after it ends. With excellent directing and some of the year’s best acting performances, Revolutionary Road will prove to be a strong Oscar contender.

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