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DVD Review: Revolutionary Road

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A decade after Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio met on set of Titanic to film one of the greatest movies of all times, they teamed up again on the set of another movie. Unlike Titanic, where they were a loving though separated-by-money couple on a doomed ship, their relationship in Revolutionary Road features a much less happy, but extremely believable, couple in the suburbs. Just like in Titanic, Kate and Leo have made another amazing movie.

Revolutionary Road tells the tale of Frank and April Wheeler (DiCaprio and Winslet), a young married couple with two children. The two live a normal 1950s suburban life, with Frank working at Knox Business Machines (in the same position his father worked) and April being the stereotypical '50s housewife. Though they are like all of their friends, and all other characters that we meet, the Wheeler’s believe that they are special. They think that they are not going to succumb to the mindless drivel of everyday suburbia, and that they will remain happy and in love with each other.

They are wrong.

Instead of being above the fray, the Wheelers are in it. April entertains neighbors doesn't like, has friends that she doesn't care for, and really has no desire to live. Frank works at a dead-end job, eats the same meal with the same people every day, and basically just wants a way out. Both are upset with the way life is going, and both have affairs because of this. Hey, it is just like a 1950s couple.

After figuring out how far off they are, April decides to talk to Frank about moving to Paris, where April intends to get a job as a secretary and let her husband do whatever he wishes. While all of their friends scoff at this idea, the two, along with their children, get excited and start planning. All of this is put on hold when April discovers that she is pregnant, and when Frank gets a promotion. This change in events brings about one of the strongest, and the most moving, movie endings that I have ever seen.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the story and script of Revolutionary Road. The actions and mannerisms of the characters seem to be straight out of the '50s. The sexual relationship between Frank and a secretary would not be possible now, but their interactions, along with everybody knowing about it, fit perfectly in the movie's timeline. I found the entire plot, story, and, well, everything, to be believable. This is a great credit to director Sam Mendes and writer Justin Haythe.

Additionally, I found both Frank and April to be believable; this credibility allowed me to feel for Frank and April, and to be moved to tears by the ending scene. This speaks wonders of how well Winslet and DiCaprio perform here. Winslet inhabits her character with style and ease, with pitch-perfect mannerisms, voice, and inflection. She is so good, in fact, that she was nominated for several awards, and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

DiCaprio, for his part, continues a streak of good performances. He is always spot on, and always in character; this is why I consider him to be one of my favorite actors of all times. As a method actor, he studied 1950s TV shows and movies for months, just to get his character down perfectly, and it shows. Every one of Frank's actions, every tilt of his head, every stutter, everything, feels perfect. As with Winslet, DiCaprio was snubbed at the awards shows, and he deserved to win multiple acting prizes.

Though this is a standard DVD release, the image quality is astounding. While it's not anywhere near Blu-ray quality, I truly felt that I was inside the home with Frank and April; everything on the screen looks so realistic. For its part, sound is also very well done. Like visuals, it's not as good as it could have been on Blu-ray, but the surround sound track played perfectly. I could hear everything, from the dialog to the subtle suburban noises, without a problem. The standard DVD release of Revolutionary Road is one of the highest quality DVDs I have ever seen.

The DVD of Revolutionary Road comes with only a few extras, but they are well worth watching. There is “Lives of Quiet Desperation” which is a making-of feature, and it is quite impressive. You look behind the scenes, explore the set, and see interviews with the cast and crew. There are also the typical deleted scenes, though this time the scenes are well worth watching. The alternate ending was more moving than the real one, and it actually caused me to cry. Finally, there is the director’s commentary, which, while somewhat tedious, is filled with interesting and useful tidbits about the movie.

Revolutionary Road is a movie that everybody should see. The story is compelling, the script flawless, and the entire plot moving and cry-worthy. Both leads play convincing characters, and they both pull off the emotions and depth that is needed. While the material might be hard for some to digest, I think that the movie is something you all need to see. I believe that you'll be moved by it.

Revolutionary Road is rated R for language and some sexual content and nudity.

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About Robert M. Barga