Starring: Leonaro DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates
Directed by Sam Mendes
Hailed as a brilliant satire of suburban oppression after its publication in the 1950s, Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road never achieved the glittering praise of its clear predecessor, The Great Gatsby.
However, like Fitzgerald, Yates conjures timeless questions of life and integrity from a contextualized pocket of history, electing to explore the domestic in the place of the debauched.
In the twenty-first century, it serves as a testament to Yates' breathtaking prose and rich thematic concepts that Revolutionary Road still resonates with the modern reader.
Transcending its immediate purpose as social commentary, the tragic story of a deluded young couple struggling with lives of "quiet desperation" tackles universal themes of hope, fear and honesty.
Considering Yates' assured and poetic writing style, American Beauty director Sam Mendes seems the perfect man to adapt the material. His work is earmarked with a refined and elegant visual gloss, which acts as veneer that disguises the sinister undertones of skin-deep beauty.
Just as Lester Burnham exposed the insufferable slings and arrows of middle-class normality, Frank and April Wheeler are caught in '50s suburbia between the manicured lawn and the pastel appliances.
Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) is on the cusp of thirty, with a pretty wife and two young children. He works a job that his father had pursued without distinction for twenty years previously, and for which he harbours a festering dislike.
He is, on the surface, a normal family man, putting food on the table and slowly graduating through the classes of mild mainstream ambition. His sensitive and striking wife April (Winslet), a woman prone to equal bouts of passion and spite, dutifully fulfils her duties as wife and mother, all the while dreaming of a fuller kind of existence.
Realising the sad and mundane nature of their lives, April and Frank devise a plan to get out before it's too late, and hatch a scheme to escape to Paris. Their employers and friends are skeptical at best, but the dazzling Wheelers don't think twice. They're determined not to buy into the "same, ridiculous delusion".
What follows is a harrowing study of a deteriorating marriage and the crippling nature of fear - fear of the unknown, fear of expectations and fear of uncovering the true extent of our own potential.
Imprisoned in their societal moulds, Frank and April gradually grow further apart as their doomed dream of a more real existence is dashed by their own apprehension.
Mendes delivers a fluidly structured, if not thoroughly depressing, film, and although they portray a truly tragic degeneration, both Winslet and DiCaprio are perfect in their roles.
Winslet summons all the ashen-blonde acerbity she can manage, a cigarette constantly perched between her long fingers, while DiCaprio's baby-faced boyishness makes Frank the epitome of lost youth.
Ultimately, Revolutionary Road is a genuinely bleak experience, but a worthwhile one nevertheless. Imagining Yates' inspired writing in a faithful and tasteful manner, Mendes delivers another fine critique of the afflictions of the status quo, and cements his place amongst the best.
4 stars out of 5