Blu-Ray Review: Beautiful Transfer of ‘Revolutionary Road’ Nearly Masks Film’s Flaws

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CHICAGO – The HD picture on “Revolutionary Road” is beautiful. At first, it threw me, as if my initial mostly negative response to the film had been misguided. But then I remembered that part of the reason “Revolutionary Road” doesn’t work for me is it looks too good. The arms-length, clinical, unemotional approach to the material makes for a great Blu-Ray, but it’s still a disappointing movie. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet) refuse to believe that they could possibly be as dull and boring as their neighbors, colleagues, or even friends in the 1950’s suburban drama “Revolutionary Road”. Frank and April may go to the same jobs and travel in the same circles as the “normal people” but they are anything but normal.

Revolutionary Road was released on Blu-Ray on June 2nd, 2009.
Revolutionary Road was released on Blu-Ray on June 2nd, 2009.
Photo credit: Paramount

Essentially, the Wheelers are ego-driven, selfish characters who long to escape the trappings of the white picket fence but are constantly drawn back into domesticity by family and work. They live unfulfilled lives but they refuse to give into their perceived fates.

Revolutionary Road was released on Blu-Ray on June 2nd, 2009.
Revolutionary Road was released on Blu-Ray on June 2nd, 2009.
Photo credit: Paramount

The problem with “Revolutionary Road” is simple - why should we care? The film feels like a clinical case of misanthropy. Frank and April are held up as examples of the inevitable tragedy of what happens if you try to break your own mold. It’s bitter filmmaking without the emotional investment in these character’s broken dreams that would have made for effective drama.

What saves “Revolutionary Road” from complete disaster is the luck of casting the best actress of her generation in Winslet and one of the best actors of his own in DiCaprio. They’re both excellent. Their performances and Michael Shannon’s Oscar-nominated and movie-stealing supporting turn nearly warrant a rental of “Revolutionary Road”.

And the film’s Blu-Ray presentation goes a long way to mask the flaws of the film. The 1080P transfer is simply beautiful without a single flaw in the HD presentation. The audio is just as good.

The special features are informative, well-organized and interesting. In particular, the deleted scenes run over 20 minutes in length and come with commentary by Sam Mendes and writer Justin Haythe. Just watching that much deleted footage and hearing a director and writer discuss why it didn’t make the final cut can provide more insight into the filmmaking process than most featurettes.

The BD for “Revolutionary Road” also includes a commentary from Mendes and Haythe, a very informative featurette called “Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road,” “Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth,” and the theatrical trailer.

‘Revolutionary Road’ is released by Paramount Home Video and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, and Kathy Bates. It was written by Justin Haythe and directed by Sam Mendes. The Blu-Ray and DVD were released on June 2nd, 2009. It is rated R. content director Brian Tallerico

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