There's a wonderfully perverse irony in the fact that the film version of Richard Yates' first and most lauded novel, Revolutionary Road, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet—the very actors who defined everlasting movie romance for an entire generation in James Cameron's Titanic. Here, Kate and Leo (both very good) once again strive to keep their heads above water, gasping for air. Only in Revolutionary Road, the sinking ship pulling them down is their own marriage. Like many of Yates' characters, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be the most average of postwar Americans. But despite their comfort and prosperity, they sense that they were once more "interesting" people, and could be so again. Deep down, they know this life of suburban anonymity isn't for them. Deeper down, they fear they may be wrong. Directed by Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road isn't a great movie—it lacks the full, soul-crushing force of the novel—but what works in it works so well that you can't help but admire it. Where Mendes' earlier film about suburban anomie—1999's overrated American Beauty—was easy to brush off, this one will likely lead to some tense moments between many a young couple on their drive home from the cinema. Which is only fitting for a film that turns out to be a far more unsettling haunted-house story than The Amityville Horror; the Wheelers' picture-perfect home sits there, biding its time, waiting to devour its next victims and their futile ambitions.
Meet the Wheelers.
Runs at Guild 45 and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 2. Rated R. 119 minutes.