Last night I saw Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Going into it, I knew very little about the movie, except that it was about a married couple feeling trapped in their life in 1950s suburbia. Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses.
The movie wasn't what I was expecting. From the trailers, I thought that they would be on their journey and it would be motivational and upbeat. Not at all. It was really very sobering, but thought provoking.
Kate plays April Wheeler, the young mother of two children, a former aspiring actress and the instigator behind their plan to sell their home and move to Paris so that her husband, Frank, can discover his passion in life. Frank, who is a faceless employee in a huge corporation, is all for it until he's offered a promotion and lots more money. And at the same time, April learns that she is pregnant again.
April suffers from bored housewife syndrome, in part because she and Frank seem to have let themselves be led into their lifestyle, rather than having made it a conscious choice. At one point in the movie, it's revealed that her first pregnancy was unplanned, and it is what led them to his job, buying a house and setting up a life like every other family in 1950s suburban America. Neither of them settle into it very well. He has an affair. And, for her, the lifestyle robs her of her identity.
I have mixed emotions about April. I felt angry with her for not stepping up to the plate and taking on the role that she, whether purposely or not, created for herself. And her children. On the other hand, I can relate to what she's going through. No matter how fulfilling parenthood is, we all wonder what we would be if we didn't have that responsibility. Our lives would be completely different and even if we don't yearn for that life, it is something that you can't help but feel curious about and be reflective of at different times in your life. Especially when things aren't so rosey on the home front.
April insists that she loves her children, and I believe that she does. However, it is hard to know what kind of a mother she is, because the children are conveniently absent during many of the scenes at home. In one scene, it's mentioned that they are at a birthday party, but other than that we can only assume that they're outside playing, well out of earshot of the stormy, and lustful, exchanges between April and Jack.
Michael Shannon plays the psychotic adult son of the Wheelers' neighbors and has been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the category of Best Supporting Actor. It is well-deserved. He provides comic relief on several occasions. He says what everyone else is thinking, but won't say out loud, which has the audience roaring with laughter one moment and squirming in discomfort the next.
I won't reveal the end of the movie, but it raised a lot more questions for me about April's character and how much was she a product of her time? Life was different for women 50 years ago. It's clear that Jack ultimately makes the decisions in the household and it is in desperation that April takes things into her own hands.
I would definitely recommend this movie. At times, I was drawn away from the story line, watching the era that was captured so well, the years a few years before I was born. For me, that's the fun of the movies, being taken to a different time and a different place, and getting to live there, even if it's just for a couple of hours.