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I haven’t read the book, but the film version certainly made an impact. There’s something dramatically satisfying about seeing articulate people argue, and Winslet and DiCaprio give it everything they’ve got, and there are sterling supporting performances from Michael Shannon and Dylan Baker. Frustration, shattered dreams, disillusionment and falling out of love don’t sound like the ingredients for a fun night out at the movies, but then again movies don’t have to be “nice” in order to be pleasurable. Favourite line, when Winslet admits that she doesn’t love her husband any more: “You’re just some boy who made me laugh at a party once”.
|Leonardo DiCaprio||Frank Wheeler|
|Kate Winslet||April Wheeler|
|Kathy Bates||Mrs. Helen Givings|
|Ryan Simpkins||Jennifer Wheeler|
|Zoe Kazan||Maureen Grube|
|Ty Simpkins||Michael Wheeler|
|Michael Shannon||John Givings|
|David Harbour||Shep Campbell|
|Max Baker||Vince Lathrop|
|Keith Reddin||Ted Bandy|
|Max Casella||Ed Small|
|Dylan Baker||Jack Ordway|
|Sean Cullen||Earl Wheeler|
|Kathryn Hahn||Milly Campbell|
|Jay O. Sanders||Bart Pollack|
|Kathy Bates||Mrs. Helen Givings|
|Kristen Connolly||Mrs. Brace|
In the late 1940s, Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets April (Kate 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, for which his father worked for twenty years, and he and April marry. In 1955, the Wheelers move to 115 Revolutionary Road in suburban Connecticut when April becomes pregnant. Frank and April settle into the normality of suburban life while bringing up their children, Michael and Jennifer.
The couple become close friends with their realtor Helen Givings (Kathy Bates) and her husband Howard Givings (Richard Easton), and neighbor Milly Campbell (Kathryn Hahn) and her husband Shep (David 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. April wants new scenery and a chance to support the family so that Frank can find his passion.
April recalls how Frank talked about moving back to Paris. With a failed career, she believes that Paris is the solution to their problems. She suggests they move. Initially Frank laughs off the idea, but then begins considering it. The only person who understands the Wheelers' decision is John (Michael Shannon), Helen's troubled son. Frank admits to John that they indeed are running away from the "hopeless emptiness" of their repetitive lifestyle.
As the couple prepares to move, they are forced to reconsider. Frank, propelled by a carefree attitude brought on by the thought of Paris, turns in a sarcastic piece of work to his boss. To his surprise, his work is considered brilliant by company executives and he is offered a promotion. April becomes pregnant again. Frank discovers that April is contemplating having an abortion. He is furious and starts screaming at April, leading to a serious altercation. April is desperate to move to Paris, but Frank is disgusted by the thought of abortion, causing him to feel that moving to Paris is an unrealistic dream. 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 Milly and Shep, a car blocks in one of the cars the couples came in. April suggests that Frank and Milly head home to release the babysitters at each house while she and Shep wait for the blocking car's driver to return. They re-enter the jazz bar, eventually dancing feverishly with each other, then making love in the car. Shep professes his long-held love for April, but she rejects his interest.
The following morning, Frank confesses to having had an affair with an assistant at his office, 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 John lambastes Frank for crushing April's hope, as well as his acceptance of his circumstances, accusing Frank of intentionally getting April pregnant to destroy the idea of moving to Paris, and saying that April allowed him to do it so that she would feel her husband was "a real man". Frank gets angry, nearly attacks John and the Givings hurry out. April and Frank have another fight, which causes April to flee the house.
Frank spends the night in a drunken stupor, but is shocked to find April in the kitchen the next morning calmly making breakfast. The couple have a pleasant breakfast, with April asking Frank about work and Frank seeming enthusiastic as he describes how the large computer purchase he is making will help many businesses. April's mood seems to have improved, but after bidding goodbye to Frank, she breaks down and prepares to perform her own vacuum aspiration abortion, which proves fatal. Shep goes to the hospital to support Frank, who hysterically tells him that "she did it to herself." April dies in the hospital due to complications following the abortion.
A new couple buys the house and we hear Milly telling the story of the Wheelers to the new owners, telling them how Frank moved to the city and is still working with computers, devoting every spare moment of his life to his children. Shep quietly tells Milly that he doesn't want to talk about the Wheelers anymore.
Helen tells Howard that she thinks the new couple that moved in are the first people she has ever found suitable for the home. Howard asks why she does not give credit to the Wheelers, and she says they were too whimsical, trying and neurotic. As she continues discussing what she did not like about the Wheelers, Howard turns off his hearing aid.