Revolutionary Road: Yes, Hell Does Have a Picket Fence Around It
When Dreams Seem Possible
Hope is a fragile thing! Must be handled with care if you want it to survive!
The Electric Light Orchestra said it best in their song "Hold On Tight" when they sang the phrase "Hold on tight to your dreams." Here you have what is one of our greatest hopes since we are children, yet how close has any of us come to living even a few of our dreams.
The Movie, Revolutionary Road is about the death of a dream, the sensible mindset that killed that dream, and the suburban trap that most people must submit to. Here's a story of how one woman dared to dream, only to have her hopes shattered. April Wheeler (Played with incredible passion by Kate Winslet) simply wanted to think outside the box. She wanted to go to Paris, and live a life that went against the grain of what was considered acceptable back in the fifties. Even her husband agreed with her at first, and the idea even brought a sense of joy back into his life, but he soon gave in to what everyone expected of him.
April was true to her desires, she didn't care about what the neighbors thought, and she was willing to risk it all for the sake of a dream. Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio gives an Oscar winning performance in this role) on the other hand was not as strong an idealist as April. At first Frank liked the idea of having the freedom of no longer working for Knox and following his father's footsteps. He liked the idea of being different, until others started pushing his buttons. His neighbor took a stab at his manhood by suggesting that having his wife support him financially in Paris was just unacceptable. His boss then finished the job by offering him a promotion, and telling him how this would make his father proud of him. As a man all of these expectations were more than he could confront or disagree with. The killer blow came when April tells him she is expecting, and having a baby in Europe was just unacceptable for him. All this causes April to not only die on the inside, but also to blame it all on her unborn child, and therefore wants an abortion.
John Givings, the son of her real estate agent,(played by Michael Shannon who give a memorable performance) visits them with his parents, and he doesn't see why April's unborn child should be a road block to their dream. John realizes that the real reason is not their unborn child. The real reason is Frank's cowardice. John Givings, who resides in a mental ward is in a sense symbolic of April's dream, which is considered in the conformist 1950's crazy and out of place. John Givings is honest, daring, and out spoken three qualities that were not easily tolerated in the period were conformity was king and suburbia was the cherished dream in a America. John Givings and the dream of going to Paris were both too out of place and insane.
Why are dreams always put as the bottom of our lists as we get older? Dying dreams can be deadly. This was definitely the case for the Neil Perry, one of Professor Keaton's brightest students in the movie, Dead Poet Society. Neil wanted nothing more than to be an actor, an unacceptable dream in his father's mind. Neil’s father had a more acceptable profession in mind for Niel. As a result of his father's intolerance, Neil chooses to end his life. April like Neil also lived a life of quiet desperation, and when she saw her own dream crushed, and her hopes no longer shared by her husband she commits an act of defiance, and decides to purge herself of her unborn child. Like her dream, her unborn child must also die.
In a subtle way the unborn child is also symbolic of April's dream, dead before even breathing his first breath. With a dead wife and child Frank must now face life alone. If only Frank had followed his heart instead of letting everyone else dictate his life.
Yes dreams are important, even if they are considered crazy or out of place. So like the song says "Hold on tight to your dreams"