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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sam Mendes
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Ryan Simpkins, Ty Simpkins, Kathy Bates, Richard Easton
Writing Credits:
Justin Haythe, Richard Yates (novel)

Tagline:
How do you break free without breaking apart?

Synopsis:
Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio and Academy Award winner Kate Winslet reunite for two powerful, groundbreaking performances in Revolutionary Road. Based on the bestseller by Richard Yates, this mesmerizing and moving story follows the lives of a passionate young couple living in suburban Connecticut who decide to risk everything to pursue their dreams. They're willing to break away from the ordinary - but can they do it without breaking apart? Acclaimed by critics, Revolutionary Road is hailed as "... a masterpiece." (Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle)

Box Office:
Budget
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$189.911 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross
$22.877 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/2/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Sam Mendes and Screenwriter Justin Haythe
• “Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road” Featurette
• 8 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Revolutionary Road (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 26, 2009)

Exactly 11 years after their triumph in Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite in 2008’s Revolutionary Road. Set in the 1950s, we meet young married couple Frank (DiCaprio) and April Wheeler (Winslet). A quick intro shows the start of their courtship, but then we leap ahead to find them married and living in suburban Connecticut.

But not happily married, it would appear. After seven years together, they find their more youthful ambitions in the toilet, so April proposes a major change. Feeling trapped by their mundane suburban life, she wants them to sell their house and move to Paris where she hopes Frank can live up to his perceived potential. Frank agrees but begins to reconsider when he receives a lucrative promotion offer at work. This leads to increased tension and complications as April and Frank deal with their lives and their future.

Going into the Oscars, Road seemed like the Winslet project most likely to earn her a prize, as it seemed like the meatier role of the two in which she appeared. I guess the Academy liked her Streep-wannabe “accent equals award” turn in The Reader, though; Winslet didn’t even get a nomination for Road.

I’m happy Winslet finally took home an Oscar, but I think Road provides her more satisfying performance. Indeed, she’s probably the best thing about the movie, and she thoroughly outclasses DiCaprio. I think Leo’s a decent actor, but he’s clearly not in Winslet’s league. He gets by more on personality and charisma, while she’s better able to lose herself in a part. She helps make the ill-defined April a breathing personality, while DiCaprio can’t quite bring life to Frank. He’s adequate to good, but that doesn’t cut it when up against Winslet.

Even if DiCaprio contributed a stellar turn, however, I’m not sure Road would live up to the hype. While a decent character study of Youthful Dreams Gone Off-Track, it offers a lot of sturm und drang that never quite goes anywhere.

Indeed, much of the flick feels awfully contrived. Road presents such a perfect storm of elements that conspire to demonstrate the cracks in the Frank/April relationship that it seems a bit unbelievable. Of course, we understand that the fissures already existed, but the movie doesn’t paint them well enough for us to see them. We enter in the midst of the relationship’s collapse, so we don’t get a good sense of what brought it there.

A few choices make matters less realistic. In particular, the use of a mentally ill character reeks of plot device. The son of the Wheelers’ realtor, he crops up for no reason other than to add some confrontation to the piece. These scenes don’t feel right to me, as they just show up to create dramatic tension. A better realized story wouldn’t need these artificial moments.

While interesting enough to keep us occupied over its two hours, I don’t think Road achieves its goals, partially because it never becomes clear what goals it pursues. Director Sam Mendes explored “the dark side of suburbia” to better effect in American Beauty. Here he creates an intermittently compelling offering that too often spins its wheels.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Revolutionary Road appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a generally solid transfer.

Sharpness came across well. Some wider shots tended to be a bit iffy, but those failed to create prominent distractions. Overall, the image was accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but mild edge haloes caused some distractions. Source flaws caused no concerns, as the flick remained clean and fresh at all times.

Like virtually all period pieces, Express went with a stylized palette. The flick cast much of its material in a golden hue that gave it a vintage amber tone. Within that range, the colors looked solid. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows provided nice clarity and delineation. For the most part, this was a positive presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Revolutionary Road worked fine for the material. The soundscape didn’t provide a lot of pizzazz. Music demonstrated nice stereo imaging, and some outdoor sequences added a decent sense of place. This was a forward-oriented mix that used the surrounds in a moderate manner.

Audio quality seemed satisfying. Speech always appeared warm and natural, with no edginess or other issues. Music was full, as the score showed solid reproduction. Effects also boasted good clarity and definition, though they didn’t exactly push the auditory envelope. Overall, the soundtrack was perfectly acceptable for this sort of flick.

When we shift to the supplements, we open with an audio commentary from director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the adaptation of the source novel, script/story issues, cast and performances, editing, shooting on location, photographic style, period details, and music.

We get a dynamic commentary here, mostly thanks to the chatty Mendes. Haythe chips in as well, but the director does most of the heavy lifting. All of the examined areas prove interesting, but I especially like the comparisons between the movie and the novel. The track tears through a lot of useful subjects and moves at a good pace.

Next we find a featurette entitled Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road. It runs 29 minutes, one second and features Mendes, Haythe, producers Bobby Cohen and John Hart, production designer Kristi Zea, property master Thomas Allen, costume designer Albert Wolsky, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Zoë Kazan and Michael Shannon. “Lives” looks at the project’s development and Mendes’s involvement, locations and production design, cinematography and period details, and the film’s themes.

Even thought the commentary covered a ton of information, we don’t find much repetition here. “Lives” digs into a mix of topics in a rich, involving manner. The additional perspectives add to its as well, so we get a good take on the film.

Five Deleted Scenes run a total of nine minutes, 50 seconds. These include “I’m Sorry” (1:22), “Birthday” (2:50), “Big Shot” (1:09), “Nothing’s Permanent” (1:17), and “Dear Frank” (3:12). Though most cut scenes aren’t very good, these have merit. I particularly like “Birthday”, as it reminds us how much Frank’s glory days seem to be behind him. The others don’t work quite as well for me, but all are interesting and viable.

We can view these scenes with or without commentary from Mendes and Haythe. They tell us a little about the sequences and let us know why the scenes didn’t make the cut. As was the case with the feature commentary, Mendes dominates. We learn some useful info about the excised clips.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, and There Will Be Blood. These also appear in the Previews domain. No trailer for Road shows up here.

American Beauty director Sam Mendes revisits suburbia to erratic effect in Revolutionary Road. The movie has its moments but doesn’t seem inventive or involving enough to soar. The DVD provides perfectly acceptable picture and audio along with a good little collection of supplements. This becomes a reasonably positive release for an erratic film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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