Revolutionary Road

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Revolutionary Road Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Intense adult drama shocks but doesn't awe.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A husband and wife tear each other apart verbally and emotionally. They mean well but are hobbled by personal dissatisfaction, an inability to communicate, and predefined gender roles. They seem unaware of the effects of their relationship on their children and fight bitterly, loudly, and somewhat physically. Friends and neighbors care about them but can't seem to help but judge their decisions. Couples are unfaithful and betray the people close to them. Communities try to unify over a shared activity but fail. A woman contemplates terminating a pregnancy.


A couple continually indulges in long, loud, drawn-out fights that lead to them either stalking off or challenging the other to hit them. Plenty of tears and insults.


A woman's breasts are bared in a scene in which she's trying to appear casual after sleeping with a married man. A married couple has sex on the kitchen counter (no nudity); another couple, not married to each other, has sex in a car (lots of noises and movement, but again, no nudity). Many conversations about trysting.


Runs the gamut, from the milder "damn" to "bulls--t" and "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke constantly (accurate for the era) and drink socially. Beer is consumed, but there seems to be a preference for hard liquor. Characters get drunk and cheat on their spouses.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this 1950s-set adult drama deals with themes that are probably too intense for younger teens. It explores a marriage on the brink of destruction, which can be painful to watch, and tackles subjects like infidelity, gender roles, abortion, and mental illness. The main characters fight constantly in long, drawn-out scenes and seem unaware of the effect their conflict is having on their children. There's also some nudity (bared breasts) and sex, as well as language, drinking, and era-accurate smoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byleonardodicario June 24, 2021
First review! Pointless
Parent of a 6, 9, and 11-year-old Written byCharlie Chaplin June 18, 2010

Not good for any age to watch!

I watched this movie because the good actors attracted my attaention and somewhere someone told me it was a good movie! I felt trapped watching it. I wanted t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywannabemoviecritic January 12, 2012


I loved it! I found it also very depressing. I'm 12 and my parent doesn't even know I watched it (children have thier methids) I'm really just tr... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydicapriofreak94 October 18, 2010

Good, but depressing film

Very well done movie. Brilliantly acted and directed, but highly depressing movie. I watched this movie, knowing that it would not be/end happily, but I was ver... Continue reading

What's the story?

It takes a backbone to lead the life you want, declares April Wheeler (Kate Winslet), a twentysomething 1950s mother of two who's rediscovering her own spine in this forceful drama based on a novel by Richard Yates. Stuck in the 'burbs, her ennui increasing with each passing day and her marriage headed for the rocks, she begs her husband, Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio), to chuck it all and head to Paris. Meanwhile, Frank whiles away the days trying to do as little work as possible at the Manhattan office where his father once clocked hours. His discontent is growing, and he wonders why his life has become strained. April's plea steers him down the road not taken, but he's not as sure as his wife that he wants to take that route. Will what's meant to save them lead to their undoing?

Is it any good?

There's no doubting Winslet's acting prowess. Her April is wasted, exhausted, emotionally spent, and fighting to be alive. It's a sight to behold. As man-child Frank -- who can't quite reach his lost wife because he's lost himself -- DiCaprio starts out as if playacting but soon delivers a performance so raw that you forget who he is; by the movie's end, it feels as if we're intruding, but we can't look away -- he's that compelling. The rest of the cast is also strong.

But like April and Frank, who once seemed destined for a bright future, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD doesn't fulfill its promise. Though beautifully shot and well-acted, the film is hobbled by somewhat prosaic storytelling. Expository scenes come one after another, relieved by equally expository flashbacks. (AMC's Mad Men does this era so much better.) Yates' novel, on the other hand, is near perfect and heartbreakingly observant. Which isn't to say that our hearts aren't broken by the movie version; they are. But we recover quickly -- and with material as powerful as this, we really shouldn't be able to walk away intact.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the main characters' relationship/interactions make teens feel. What kind of parents were they? How do you think children are affected by a relationship like April and Frank's? Also, how does the era in which the story is set shape it? What were the 1950s and 1960s like for men and women? Were gender roles limited? Why did April and Frank -- and scores like them -- try to adapt? How did they try to retain their individuality? Were they successful?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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