I find it impossible to review this movie without spoiling the ending for my readers. I have read numerous reviews on Christian sites, which seem to be afraid to talk about the main focus of the movie. Yet the topic of the movie – abortion – is something that the viewer will have wished he or she knew before going into it.
The star-crossed lovers of Titanic have reunited on the set, but their relationship is nothing to be admired. In the story based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates and directed by Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet and Leonard DiCaprio play a husband and wife who have reached the stage of boredom in their 1950s upper-class suburban home in Connecticut. Two children float in and out of the picture, having no real roles but that of accessories, like the bland but elegant furniture in the large house in which they live on Revolutionary Road.
After starting his birthday with a marital argument with his wife April, Frank Wheeler seduces a young secretary at work. When he arrives home, there are tears in his eyes as his wife and children surprise him with a cake. Later, April convinces him that the way out of their unhappy situation is to sell all they own and move to Paris. There, she can take a good-paying job and he can find his purpose in life.
Setting a date for September, she purchases steamer tickets and puts the house up for sale. With some hope on the horizon, the couple seems happy that summer until two things happen that put their decision in jeopardy: she becomes pregnant and he is offered a job promotion.
“Don’t worry, Millie tells me as long as I take care of it before 12 weeks it will be okay,” she consoles him, and he says nothing. When he finds a piece of tubing in the bathroom closet, he knows she is seriously thinking of aborting. The tension grows and she becomes more and more emotionally distant. She frequently smokes and consumes alcohol. While she appears to be in control, there are times where privately she totally “loses” it, including when she gets drunk and cheats on her husband with the next door neighbor.
The night on which her pregnancy is dated at 12 weeks, they have a really awful fight, during which they both admit to hating each other, and he says he wished they had gotten rid of “it”. He later says he didn’t mean it, but he has already triggered a chain of thoughts in her mind that has set her resolve.
The last morning, there is a chilling scene during which she plays the perfect wife, making him a nice breakfast. She has placed the children in her friend Millie’s care, and you know what she is going to do as soon as he leaves the house.
Wearing perfectly starched linens, she carries the necessary instruments to the bathroom and closes the door. When she walks down the stairs, she stands at the window and smiles. She starts bleeding and calls for help. She dies in the hospital.
The movie ends with Wheeler sitting on a park bench, watching his children on the swings and obviously grieving over what he has lost.
I do not recommend watching this movie for fun. I would absolutely not recommend it for minors. I do think the movie tells some important truths, including the facts that: (1) abortion has been around for a very long time; (2) more often than society likes to admit, abortions happen even in upper-class marriages, just because the baby is not convenient; (3) abortion is a life-or-death decision for both the baby and the mother.
This post has also been published on Catholic Media Review.