DVD Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary RoadKate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) joined forces to make Revolutionary Road, a drama that flew under the radar in December 2008 and received lukewarm reviews from critics, despite being one of the best of the year. This emotional and shocking tale will be available on DVD this coming Tuesday, June 2, 2009.

Kate Winslet won an Oscar for her performance in the so-so drama The Reader, despite her much stronger and emotional portrayal as a woman trapped in a loveless marriage here. Leonardo DiCaprio failed to even garner a nomination, once again suggesting that the Academy has something against the actor, who, to no great surprise, turned in one of the best performances of his career. At least Michael Shannon received a much-deserved nomination for his supporting role.

Despite its lack of acclaim, Revolutionary Road is as close to a masterpiece as 2008 offered. The film is more subdued than most of Mendes’ pictures and the story unfolds at a slow and methodical clip, which presumably turned off some audience members and critics. But the movie sizzles with emotional tension and anger to the point where I find it shocking that others didn’t share the same experience.

Needless to say, the movie is well worth watching, as it offers great direction, strong writing and incredible acting. The DVD, as one might imagine, lacks much in the way of special features, however. Mendes and writer Justin Haythe offer up an audio commentary, and the two also share their thoughts on several deleted scenes that didn’t make the cut for a variety of reasons (a bunch of flashbacks to the characters’ childhoods, for instance, were dropped). Beyond those, however, there’s simply a making-of documentary, and it’s one of those fluffy ones that talk about the emotions of the characters and how the actors came to be involved, pretty standard fare that has been seen time and time again. A little is shown regarding the costume design and sets, but the featurette feels less an examination of how the movie was actually made and more like a vehicle for DreamWorks to advertise another special feature on the back of the box.

The DVD features are pretty pitiful, but Revolutionary Road is a drama so one can’t expect much. The movie is great and deserving of more acclaim than it received. Recommended.

By Erik Samdahl
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