Revolutionary Road (2008)
Sam Mendes, the man who looked destined to eat retrospective cherries with the big guys in film history after his explosive and unwieldly entertaining and introspective American Beauty in 1999 returns with the extremely heavy and unforgiving drama Revolutionary Road. The film shares the unwieldyness and introspection with American Beauty, but it lacks the entertainment and ability to appreciate the change of tone in most ordinary lives. Ultimately, this is Mendes' third potentially explosive film, following Road to Perdition and Jarhead, which ends up as an overwrought and partly inane affair.
That being said, Revolutionary Road is valuable for the at times fantastic acting, especially from Leonardo DiCaprio. He turns his character outside-in in constant search for the little glimmer of inspiration to turn the situation around for himself and his family. With better direction, DiCaprio's would surely have been an Oscar-worthy performance. Kate Winslet also has great moments, but her character ultimately suffers from Mendes' desire to squeeze juice out of the peel after having finished squeezing the fruit.
Fine supporting performances from Michael Shannon, David Harbour, Dylan Baker and Kathy Bates make up an ensemble which probably would have made this script into dynamite on stage. As realized by Mendes, however, Revolutionary Road is an unforgiving and distended film which on one hand is able to tell remarkably much about our human nature, but which on the other hand totally neglects our ability to turn things around.