"Revolutionary Road" On-Camera Review

by Eric Melin on January 14, 2009

in Video Reviews


Eric and J.D. are reunited in a moment so big it could only be eclipsed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s first pairing since the record-breaking run of “Titanic” all those years ago. “Revolutionary Road” was directed by Winslet’s husband Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) and adapted from the novel by Richard Yates. A depressing study of an unhappy married couple who feel trapped in the suburbs, it’s about as far away from “Titanic” as you can get. See what Eric and J.D. thought of “Revolutionary Road” in this on-camera video review.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RCM January 25, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I actually loved this movie. Unlike a lot of “good” American dramas that have come out recently (Milk, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, etc.) this is one of the few that didn’t feel like it was playing down to its audience with trite Hollywood formulas (I don’t think there have been very many great American dramas this Oscar season). Which is weird because it really is similar to “American Beauty”.

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2 RCM January 25, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I actually loved this movie. Unlike a lot of “good” American dramas that have come out recently (Milk, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, etc.) this is one of the few that didn’t feel like it was playing down to its audience with trite Hollywood formulas (I don’t think there have been very many great American dramas this Oscar season). Which is weird because it really is similar to “American Beauty”.

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3 Eric Melin January 25, 2009 at 11:36 pm

One of the points I brought up in the review (which was cut for time) was that Michael Shannon’s character (as good as he played it) was just waaaaay too obvious. You can’t have someone take the opposite point of view and just come right out and plainly state his revulsion the way he did. I get it as a device, but it should have been more subtle, more like the time period they were recreating, or his parents should have done more to stop him. Those kinds of things were always unspoken and didn’t have to be so obvious in the movie.

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4 Eric Melin January 25, 2009 at 11:36 pm

One of the points I brought up in the review (which was cut for time) was that Michael Shannon’s character (as good as he played it) was just waaaaay too obvious. You can’t have someone take the opposite point of view and just come right out and plainly state his revulsion the way he did. I get it as a device, but it should have been more subtle, more like the time period they were recreating, or his parents should have done more to stop him. Those kinds of things were always unspoken and didn’t have to be so obvious in the movie.

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5 Tammi Hawk January 25, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Only those who have been married ten years with two kids would really “get” this movie. Mendes quickly establishes that two very undefined, unfilled people find their life adventure in the dreams of the other, not on their own. The fusion in the marriage—the loss of the individual selves—comes to life around their betrayal, not of each other but of their own dreams. Who wants to break free and find adventure in Paris, April or Frank? April is looking for a way out of her trap and convinces the unhappy Frank that he is lost without his specialness. He can stay home with the kids. She wants to be in an adult world.

April is right in the 1950’s. As long as women are extensions of their husbands, their husbands must find a way to be an authentic self or both are trapped in someone else’s idea of a good life. So she schemes to push him off balance. The only way April can find herself is with a husband willing to take the journey. It might have been right for these two people, to make a giant leap out of their empty lives and take the risk or lose it all, but they are challenged by all those around them that have convinced themselves that this life is “good enough” and are unable to break free. Misery does love company. April crumbles as Frank gives in and gives up. He is afraid to take the steps towards real fulfillment, being temporarily satisfied to act out at work and blame his wife for the dullness in their lives. When he, in a moment of not giving a shit of what others think of him, has a streak of genius, he has experienced a moment of happiness. But when he is treated as “special” at work, he chucks the plan to search for his real life, once again for what just feels good in the moment–approval and praise from others.

Enter Michael Shannon’s character, John from the psych unit. Of course John sees it the way it is. His craziness is actually his inability to pretend that things are just fine when they are not. He lacks the social grease that people have when they need a long time to size up a situation. He sees through it instantly as he knows emptiness and hopelessness when he sees it. And he didn’t take sides, which was exactly the point—Frank and April were equally miserable and equally lost in their accommodation to each other.

When April decides to end the pregnancy, she is taking a risk to end the life she has been living; one way or another, she is on her way out of there—to Paris, to emotional numbness, or to death.

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