Revolutionary Road (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Revolutionary Road is a 2008 British-American romantic drama film directed by Sam Mendes. The screenplay was written by Justin Haythe, adapted from the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, with Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, and Kathy Bates in supporting roles. The film follows Frank (DiCaprio) and April Wheeler (Winslet), a mid-1950s couple struggling to cope with their personal problems and ensuing breakdown in their marriage. Revolutionary Road is the second onscreen collaboration for DiCaprio, Winslet, and Bates, all of whom previously co-starred in 1997's Titanic.

Development of the film adaptation first began in 1961. However, a lack of commercial prospects and disagreements with the screenplay caused the project to be in limbo until the 2000s. BBC Films eventually purchased the film rights to the novel and Haythe rewrote the screenplay. Winslet read the script and persuaded her then-husband Mendes to direct, and DiCaprio to play the role of Frank. Principal photography began in 2007 on location in Darien, Connecticut. The film soundtrack was composed by Thomas Newman; it was his fourth collaboration with Mendes.

Revolutionary Road was released in the United States on December 26, 2008, followed by a wider international release in January 2009, and grossed $76 million at the worldwide box office. The film opened to positive reviews, with praise for DiCaprio's and Winslet's performances, and for its faithfulness to the novel. DiCaprio and Winslet earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, of which Winslet won. The film also received three nominations at the Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Shannon), Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.


In 1948, Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) meets April (Winslet) at a party. He is a longshoreman, hoping to be a cashier; she wants to be an actress. Frank later secures a sales position with Knox Machines, and he and April marry. The Wheelers move to 115 Revolutionary Road in suburban Connecticut when April becomes pregnant.

The couple become close friends with their realtor Helen Givings (Bates) and her husband Howard Givings (Easton), and neighbor Milly Campbell (Hahn) and her husband Shep (Harbour). To their friends, the Wheelers are the perfect couple, but their relationship is troubled. April fails to make a career out of acting, while Frank hates the tedium of his work. On his 30th birthday, Frank invites a secretary at work to have a drink with him at a bar. She accepts, becomes heavily intoxicated, and they end up having sex. Meanwhile, Helen has asked April if they will meet her son, John (Shannon), who had been in an insane asylum. She thinks the younger couple may be able to help her son with his condition. April accepts.

April wants a change of scenery and a chance to support the family so Frank can find his passion, so she suggests that they move to Paris to start a new life away from the "hopeless emptiness" of their lifestyle. Frank balks at the idea at first, but becomes convinced. Over the next several weeks, the Wheelers tell their various friends about their plans to live in Paris, but surprisingly, the only person who seems to comprehend their decision is John.

As the couple prepares to move, they are forced to reconsider. Frank is offered a promotion, and April becomes pregnant again. When Frank discovers she is contemplating having an abortion, the couple have an altercation, in which April says that they had their second child only to prove the first child was not a "mistake". The next day, Frank takes the promotion and tries to accept his uneventful life. At the end of an evening at a jazz bar with the Campbells, Shep and April end up alone together. She confides in him of her depression over the canceled Paris plans and her life in general, and they end up having sex in the car. Shep professes his long-held love for April, but she rejects his interest.

The following day, Frank confesses to having had an affair, hoping to reconcile with April. To his surprise, April responds apathetically and tells him it does not matter, as her love for him has gone, which he does not believe. The Givings come over for dinner, and Frank announces to the guests that their plans have changed because April is pregnant. John lambasts Frank for crushing April's hope, as well as his acceptance of his circumstances. Angered, Frank nearly attacks John, and the Givings leave. Afterwards, Frank and April have an altercation, and April flees the house.

Frank spends the night in a drunken stupor. The next morning he is shocked to find April in the kitchen, calmly making breakfast. Frank, unsure of how to react, eats with her and then leaves for work. April then goes to the bathroom, where she—offscreen—performs a vacuum aspiration abortion on herself. Afterwards, she discovers she is bleeding and calls an ambulance. Frank arrives at the hospital, distraught, and is comforted by Shep. April dies in the hospital from blood loss. A guilty Frank moves to the city and starts selling computers. He spends his spare time with his children.

A new couple, the Braces, buys their old home and Milly tells the story of the Wheelers to them. Shep stands up and walks out of the house, crying; he tells Milly to never talk about the Wheelers ever again. Helen talks to her husband, years later, about how the Braces seem to be the best-suited couple for the Wheelers' old house. When her husband mentions the Wheelers, Helen starts to explain why she did not like them. As she continues to elaborate, her husband turns off his hearing aid.

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