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Revolutionary Road

5/10

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates,
David Harbour, Richard Easton, Kathryn Hahn, Zoe Kazan, Dylan Baker, Jay O Sanders

Director: Sam Mendes

An uncompromising look at the American Dream gone sour, this well-acted piece is about as miserable a film as you could wish to find. Much as you admire the anguished performances of DiCaprio and, particularly, Winslet, and pity their characters, it's one of those films where you just wish one of them would slit their wrists and get it over.

Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio), a longshoreman soon to join his father's computing firm, and April (Winslet), a would-be actress of no great talent, meet romantically and soon have two kids and a pleasant, white-painted house in the suburbs. Constantly bickering, both are fed up with the routine of their lives.

Frank's attention wanders to a girl at work (Kazan), but then April comes up with an audacious idea: relocation to Paris. Frank feels compelled to agree, but then fortuitously gets offered a big leg up the ladder at work. That's where things really fall apart, leaving April, who's pregnant again, and Frank realising that they hate the sight of one another. The ending is painfully contrived to achieve the intended result.

Though it has its perceptive moments, the film also contains sequences where it tips over into melodrama, and thoroughly predictable developments. See it for the acting - Hahn and Harbour are also very good as the Wheelers' neighbours - but don't expect a cheery (or entirely convincing) night out.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks). Colour by deluxe.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 24 Jan 2009