Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Many people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?
|Featuring:||Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, more »|
“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”
|Producer:||BBC Films, DreamWorks Pictures, Evamere Entertainment, Goldcrest Pictures, Neal Street Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, more »|
“How do you break free without breaking apart?”
This film marked the first time that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunited onscreen since “Titanic.”
“Revolutionary Road,” the latest film from acclaimed director Sam Mendes, is quite simply a stunning movie. It isn't, however, stunning like “your first trip to the Grand Canyon” was stunning. It is more like “you just witnessed a horrific car accident and can hardly move” stunning. The film tells the story of Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), a picture perfect couple in a picture perfect town, with the warm, inviting home, and two adorable children that would make most other couples jealous. April is an aspiring actress, but spends most of her time taking care of their home, while Frank catches the train to the city each morning to work his admirable, blue-collar job. By all estimations, they are the prime example of what an American family should be. But, as with most everything else in life, judging them by their appearance would not get you anywhere near the truth.
The film opens with April's newest acting role at the small, local community theater. Frank can hear the groans from the audience, mainly directed towards his wife, and makes little attempt to comfort her when the play mercifully ends. The car ride home is worse, with Frank verbally lashing out at his wife, who spars with hurtful words of her own. Perhaps this serves as a wake up call to April, who begins to see what living the typical American life can do to a couple, a family, and suggests to Frank that they do something spontaneous to put the spark back into their lives. She suggests they move to Paris. This comes at a bad time for Frank, who is flirting with a serious job promotion, as well as flirting with a very young woman in the secretarial pool at work. But, April is a big dreamer, and wants Frank to reach the potential she saw in him before they had even married, and she finally coaxes him into the move. As they prepare for life in a different country, friends and neighbors voice their disapproval.
Frank begins to have second thoughts, and a situation arises that threatens the move, and the way of life as they know it. As this event takes center stage in their lives, things around them begin to slow spin out of control, as selfish desires start driving every decision the two make. The arguments intensify—anger boiling over in scenes of jaw-dropping intensity, until the two almost become strangers in their own home, barely speaking at all if they aren't yelling.
About a month ago, I was able to see “…Benjamin Button,” and while watching that movie it dawned on me that, frankly, nothing was happening. Three hours of basically nothing. And, honestly, it bored me greatly. Watching “Revolutionary Road,” it occurred to me that even less was actually happening in the movie, as most of the scenes consist strictly of dialogue between Frank and April. The difference is that with “Revolutionary Road” I was completely transfixed by what was going on, by the characters, and how brutally they were able to verbally hurt the people they claimed to love. This is a credit to DiCaprio and Winslet, who deliver two of the better performances I have seen in a very long time. Their chemistry is superb, and their verbal jousts are mesmerizing, but it is in the facial expressions, the hurt reactions, the prideful glances, where the two actors shine.
The lone voice of reason in the film ironically comes from a man with bi-polar disorder. He is the son of the Realtor who sold the Wheelers their home on Revolutionary Road. He sees right through the couple, calling their bluffs and reading their exact motives at every turn. He is the prime example of some saying exactly what we as an audience want to say, and Michael Shannon delivers the lines with ferocious honesty, with a helping of acidic humor.
The content of “Revolutionary Road,” however, is intense enough to hopefully detract Christian audiences from seeing it. There are some violent scenes, but not violent in the way we usually see them. That's really all I can say without giving away too much. There is a good amount of sexual content as well, with two rather graphic sex scenes, although neither features nudity. There is brief nudity earlier in the film, with bare breasts seen very briefly. The language in the film is explicit, with basically every foul word being used in one way or another, and in very cruel ways.
The overall tone of the film is dark, as is fairly typical for Sam Mendes’ films (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”) and very bleak, as these characters are hopeless souls who are searching desperately for something to give their lives meaning.
None of the characters exemplify true love towards one another, despite claiming their sincere love numerous times. They are empty people, living empty lives, and while their actions towards one another may seem despicable, we can't expect any less from people who have not experienced the love and grace that can only come from God.
To be completely honest, you could have a month of seminars based on the various spiritual applications that can be lifted from this movie, but going into depth here would require your viewing it, which I cannot recommend. This is not a movie Christians need to be seeing, specifically Christian couples, and while the previews for this movie may seem fairly vague, this is most certainly not a date movie either. The verbal brutality seen in this film is nothing short of astonishing; I don't remember seeing anything that could come close. As the fighting becomes more intense, we are aware that we are witnessing the crash and burn of an “ideal American family,” and while the performances are extraordinary, the experience is by no means enjoyable.
Do yourself a huge favor, and avoid taking a trip down “Revolutionary Road.”
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.