Revolutionary Road Blu-ray Review

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by Casimir Harlow Aug 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review

    Revolutionary Road Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £18.59


    Revolutionary Road looks amazing on Blu-ray, coming presented with a glorious 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. Detail is excellent throughout, right from the start, with keen attention to both the close-ups and long shots. You can read the names on the small jars in the kitchen, see the intricacy of the patterns on the dresses April wears, note the very strands of hair and lines on these individuals' faces, pause to see the many leaves on the trees - and on the ground itself - in the nearby forest, this really is drama at its best on Blu-ray. Sure, it is no Hollywood blockbuster, with ships sinking and CGI and stuff, but it is a prime example of what wonders you can work with the latest High Definition technology to make any material look fantastic. The colour scheme is quite broad and luscious, given the pretty neighbourhood, the greens of the trees, the light rays of sunlight cascading in through the kitchen, the slightly bland 50s sets still looking the best they probably have ever done - plenty of cedar wood and white walls within the household, all looking pretty, and pretty realistic. Black levels are solid, and the few night, or low lighting scenes, look superb, not faltering for a second and retaining detail despite the lack of light. Even the bar-dance scene, with its dim red lighting never bleeds out and loses focus. With no noticeable defects and absolutely no noise or grain, this movie looks tremendous on Blu-ray from start to finish.
    Revolutionary Road Picture


    The Audio accompaniment is much harder to dissect, a superior track on paper - a Dolby TrueHD track no less - it has very little to showcase with this particular film, the material simply does not warrant any significant surround use, dynamics, or even much bass. Dialogue is the most important aspect of this particular affair, and actually probably the loudest 'high point' of the track too - the raging arguments leading to shouts and even screams which will probably give your neighbours the wrong impression. Every word comes across crisply and clearly, whether whispered or yelled, and this is easily the best aspect of the aural mix. Effects are purely ambient, largely negligible, often going unnoticed during the movie because they are neither important nor promoted as being important. The score is also quite subtle, threaded throughout the production as a brooding undercurrent, never really breaking through to become noteworthy, but also representing the sole source of any bass that is present. There are a few 50s song tracks thrown into the mix, to add to the period mood, and these also come across well. This is a subtle affair, which could never be used to show off your Home Entertainment system, but still perfectly represents the material offered.
    Revolutionary Road Sound


    First up we get an Audio Commentary with Director Sam Mendes and Screenwriter Justin Haythe, whose primary intention is to relate their work here to the novel which it is based upon. Avoiding technical observations and general anecdotes in favour of this cross-examination is a far more rewarding experience - but mainly for those who have read the book. Still, if you have had the chance to read the book first then this will be an extremely good track to listen to, and pick up on all the changes, similarities and cuts made whilst adapting the material.

    We get a wealth of Deleted Scenes, all with Optional Commentary by Mendes and Haythe, who state that whilst much of it was taken from the book, it was ultimately removed from the final film either because of pacing of because they felt it did not work as well in the end product (although, as I will briefly note later, some of it clearly made the trailer). Interesting to see (again, even more so if you remember them from the novel), fans will want to check out these 25 minutes of Deleted Footage.

    Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road is a half-hour documentary looking behind the scenes at this production, and featuring contributions from all the main cast and crew, who talk about how they got involved and what they brought to the table. Mendes looks at how the movie is one for all generations and times, transcending its period setting, and his wife Winslet reveals that she was the one who started the ball rolling on this whole project. We also get some Behind the Scenes footage and information on the period sets and costumes.

    Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth is an interesting almost half-hour look at the work of Yates, reflected on through his children, who look back on his books and explain how much of the pain they exhibit, the tortured souls they examine, came from within Yates himself and his own troubled life. This is quite a revealing, interesting extra to check out, even if you haven't read the book. Rounding off the disc we get the Theatrical Trailer which oddly has some footage in it that was eventually cut, making you curious as to whether there was another version of the film originally.
    Revolutionary Road Extras


    Transcending the period setting, breaking from your standard relationship-drama mould, Sam Mendes' bleak look at suburban marital 'bliss' and its truly rotten heart is a heavy, painful affair, carrying with it a keen but cutting social commentary on our own very existences. Far superior to similar relationship dramas like the recent, disappointing, Two Lovers, Mendes is still a little too unabashedly relentless with his doom and gloom, but if you can accept your fate then this is a worthy watch, peppered with insightful dialogue and acute performances from its fantastic stars, DiCaprio and Winslet, who are on top form.

    This region-free Blu-ray release comes with a near-perfect video representation and a decent enough audio track that does the best with the material it has, as well as a wealth of truly thoughtful and insightful extras, largely avoiding any of the usual promotional filler. If you have seen and like this movie (or have read and enjoyed the book), then this release is simply and unequivocally a must-have. For those who have simply read about Revolutionary Road, it comes strongly recommended as one of the most underrated movies of last year.
    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.59

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