Review in a Hurry: Eleven years after Titanic, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reunite on another sinking ship—this dolorous tale of suburban misery. Thankfully, director Sam Mendes keeps the whole sad thing under two hours.
The Bigger Picture: Mendes has been down this Road before, dealing with the same everyman ennui in his hit American Beauty. Where Beauty was a knock out, Road is a whimpering, funereal meditation on hopelessness. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
April (Winslet) and Frank (DiCaprio) are a 1950s bohemian New York City couple drawn to the suburbs when they start a family. Bad move—he's a corporate slave; she's a lonely housewife. Every opportunity they have to escape is foiled by fate, or, really, their own stultifying inertia.
The result? Fighting. Lots of it. It's like Mad Men meets WWE, but far less entertaining. Tedious, talky, enraged, they go on and on about their varying discontents, to the point where they fight about whether or not to fight.
We understand—immediately, like in the second or third scene, thank you—that they are tragically suppressed; why should we care? We don't have to like them; it's just that nowhere amidst this endless screeching is, at the least, a sense of humanity.
This adaptation—from the novel by Richard Yates—is an unenviable task. Yates had the luxury of fleshing out characters with the written word; here, April and Frank are one-dimensional.
The 180—a Second Opinion: The directing is economical and crisp, and Mendes' ensemble—Kate, Leo and everyone else—is outstanding, especially character actor Michael Shannon as a disturbed young man who states the truth with shattering candor.