The location established we move inside, and the first person we spot is April. That, right there, is my favourite shot of the scene above. I’ve already spoken about how much I love Kate’s smoking in this film and she looks so glamorous. For such an eclectic actress, I wish that Kate would do a film where she really allows herself to let go and be as glamorous as she could. What makes those potentially maudlin dreams of April work is that we can imagine a life where Kate could be the glamorous actress April had hoped she’d become. This makes her failed dreams so much more devastating.
Frank (OS: “So, what do you do?”
April: “I’m studying to be an actress. You?”
Frank: “I’m a longshoreman.”
April: “No, I mean really.”
Frank: “I mean really, too. Although, starting next Monday. I’ll be doing something a little more glamorous.”
April: “What’s that?”
Frank: “Night cashier at a cafeteria”
April: “I don’t mean how you make money. I mean, what are you interested in.”
Frank: “Honey, if I had the answer to that one I bet I’d bore us both to death in half an hour.
Mendes and Justin Hayte (the writer) seem to milking the Titanic romance here. I'd imagine that dissenters would be unmoved by the overly romantic opening, even as it segues into that romantic dance sequence.
And the final shot of vignette switches to a tense Frank in the present.
I love to go in for over-analysis and for me, I find that Revolutionary Road is saturated with layers upon layers. It’s not clear whether what we just saw is a memory or real. The thing about memories is that they always seem better in retrospect and taking into context what we come to know about April – and Frank, especially – they’re the type of people who dream big. The glossiness of that flashback that opens the seem is the sort of clichéd meet-cutes that real people only dream which makes us wonder if it was as lovely in reality. Surely, if April was really as glamorous as she seems at the opening she’d have been a successful actress? But, we don’t know any of this yet. We’ve got an opening that hooks us, and then we get the eyes of a hardened Frank lost in thought.
A shot of a play that seems to have underwhelmed its audience...
And we get a shot of April, acting, but from all evidence unsuccessfully.
As far as hooking the audience goes Mendes and co. accomplish it in under 3 minutes because immediately we’re wondering – what went wrong? And, for me, the rest of Revolutionary Road makes good on that promise giving us a play by play of what did.
What do you think of the film's opening?