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Movie Review

Revolutionary Road a.k.a. “O Dromos tis epanastasis,” “Hayallerin pesinde,” “Zeiten des Aufruhrs”

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content/nudity.

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance, Drama, Adaptation
1 hr. 59 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 26, 2008 (limited)
January 23, 2009 (800 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Marriage in the Bible

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?

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, more »
Director: Sam Mendes
American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition
Producer: BBC Films, DreamWorks Pictures, Evamere Entertainment, Goldcrest Pictures, Neal Street Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, more »
Distributor: DreamWorks

“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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I have to admit this is one of the most accurate reviews I've read, of a film, from this site. The reviewer nails, perfectly, the intensity of this film and the dialogue on the screen. The one thing I do disagree with however is that no one should see this film.

Sometimes wake up calls are uncomfortable. Sometimes we need perspective and “Revolutionary Road” is certainly able to provide us with some raw doses of such.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Misty Wagner, age 32 (USA)
Positive—Wow. What can I say? This is such a powerful film. The performances are amazing all around, and of course, Sam Mendes’ direction is out of this world. This film is similar to American Beauty in the sense that it is basically about two people trying to find happiness in the suburbs. Unlike American Beauty, however, there's not even a glimmer of hope present. People have compared this film to WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, and I can definitely see why. It seems as though Sam Mendes is the Mike Nichols of our generation. Both men came from the world of theatre, and they're not afraid to tackle risky subject matter. I believe that this is something to be admired.

This is an audacious film that grabs hold of you from the start, and doesn't let go until the final frame. It stays with you—and in a world filled with the likes of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and BRIDE WARS, what more could you ask for?

I'd also like to point out the fact that I have to disagree with the guest reviewer. While there are scenes in the film that are uncomfortable to watch, I do not think that it is a film that should be avoided by all Christians. I think we are more capable than you think, in the sense that we can handle mature subject matter. This is a film that needs to be seen. It is a cautionary tale about how easily it is to lose control of your marriage, if God is not the center, which in this case, He most certainly is not. This is the film that FIREPROOF wanted to be and should have been. This is quite simply the harsh reality of something that could happen, and that has happened, in many marriages, and I do not think that it should be avoided simply because of content. Leave that to your own personal convictions, and then decide whether or not it is something that you want to see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Adam Renkovish, age 26 (USA)
Positive—I agree with everything the 2 positive reviewers before me have said. It is reality on so many levels. The acting was amazing. Watching the deleted scenes on the DVD gave more meaning to the story. Please put a “spoiler warning” on the negative comment below that tells what happens at the end of the movie. It made me very grateful for my marriage and my Godly husband. It reminds me to stress to young people how important it is to pray for God's guidance on their future spouse. I feel the decision on who you marry is the 2nd most important decision one will make in their life. The first being their decision to give their life to Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gail, age 53 (USA)
Positive—The two protagonists in this movie are not Christian. They live a materialistic, unhappy life, and they are in love with one another. There is imperfection. There are conflicts, as in all marriages. There are things said to destroy one another, as it happens in reality and not in a fantasitcal Christian world where this sort of thing is far fetched.

As a Christian, I saw a possibility of redemption for these characters, whose lives turn from bad to worse due to their different and very human dreams and ambitions that, again, can be real.

The movie was not only made up of hateful scenes for one another. There is hope in the beginning and love and perfection, and then it deteriorates.

It was a good movie that Christians (not religious people) should see, not because it can teach you something necessarily, but because you can follow the character's lives and, if you let it, feel what they feel. This is called empathy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sam, age 34 (USA)
Neutral—I was very hesitant about watching this movie. I had already watched The Reader with Kate Winslet and was not very pleased but I decided that I would watch this movie. I thought that it was going to be worse than what it was. I thought the whole movie was good. In my opinion, this movie shows you that you reap what you sow. Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio, in this film, particulary Kate Winslet just did not appreciate what she had. She was wanting to, in my opinion, live for herself. It shows how a marriage can dissolve in pieces without God being the center of the marriage. I think that christian people should see this movie, especially married people, to see what a Godless marriage could lead to. I was hesitant to watch this movie because I thought there would be a lot of nudity in this film. There was only about 3 seconds, at the most, of nudity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Michael, age 18 (USA)
Negative—After seeing this movie, I made it a point to tell my friends NOT to see it! I was enjoying it for most of the beginning and middle, then a big “left turn” made the rest of the film uncomfortable to even watch. However, I loved Leonardo and Kate in the movie—they were brilliant.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Darin, age 25 (USA)
Negative—This is a HORRIBLE movie! It is a perfect example of Hollywood indulgence. If succeeds in its goal to fill our minds with how marriage interferes with your deepest desires and dreams, and how adultery and abortion can help you. Kate Winslet dies at the end from giving herself an abortion. Now you know, so you don't have to waste your money by filling the pockets of the people who want you to think this is “intellectually stimulating.” Oh yes, and Leo and Kate fight the entire movie. It gave me chest pains along with nausea.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Heather, age 32 (USA)