Before I get on with this story, I want to forewarn you that I will be talking about Sam Mendes, and I will say that he is a directing a story along the same lines of Americ—no wait…come back! See, this is what I’m talking about. Ever since American Beauty arrived in 1999 to significant praise and a buttload of Oscars, there’s been a huge backlash in effect that’s slowly intensified with each passing year since. I can’t find anybody that genuinely likes the picture now, and while I haven’t seen it since the first theatrical screening I managed to catch back then, I don’t remember it being that bad. But I have not come to discuss that film, but merely reference it to help those unfamiliar with the source material of Sam Mendes’ new project.

Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road was a mid-century (1961) phenom of a novel. It’s one of those perfect marriages of great art and perfectly-timed cultural commentary that doesn’t come along often. The basic premise deals with the dysfunctions of suburbia as we follow an average married couple with two kids, a nice job in the city for the hubby, and nothing but thinly-veiled contempt for it all. They…..hey! I see you inching toward your browser’s address bar already. Wait a sec! While it seems similar, Yates’ story eschews the melodramatics for deeper, internal deconstruction of individuality and the American spirit itself. And that’s what’ll have to make it onscreen to truly set this apart. But how do you get such internal conflicts right without the benefit of a lot of obnoxious voiceover?

Well, you start by casting two goddamn great actors as your leads. Mendes has reunited the Titanic duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, who of course is already intimately familiar with Mendes as his wife. I didn’t realize this until now, but this would be his debut directing her, which should be interesting. Both actors are getting meaty, tear-at-themselves kinds of parts with this story, but their sterling track records in the years since their megahit should do a lot to ease those still haunted by the ghost of Beauty. Mendes is due to start shooting this summer for Dreamworks/Paramount.