In 1948, Frank Wheeler (DiCaprio) meets April (Winslet) at a party. He is a longshoreman, hoping to be a cashier; she wants to be an actress. Frank later secures a sales position with Knox Machines, for which his father worked for 20 years, and he and April marry. The Wheelers move to 115 Revolutionary Road in suburban Connecticut when April becomes pregnant.
The couple becomes close friends with their realtor Helen Givings (Bates) and her husband Howard Givings (Easton), and neighbor Milly Campbell (Hahn) and her husband Shep (Harbour). To their friends, the Wheelers are the perfect couple, but their relationship is troubled. April fails to make a career out of acting, while Frank hates the tedium of his work. On his 30th birthday, Frank invites a secretary at work to have a drink with him at a bar. She accepts, becomes heavily intoxicated, and they end up having sex. Meanwhile, Helen has asked April if they will meet her son, John (Shannon), who had been in an insane asylum. She thinks the younger couple may be able to help her son with his condition. April accepts.
April wants new scenery and a chance to support the family so Frank can find his passion, so she suggests that they move to Paris to start a new life away from the “hopeless emptiness” of their repetitive lifestyle. Frank balks at the idea at first, but becomes convinced. Over the next several weeks, the Wheelers tell their various friends about their plans to live in Paris, but surprisingly, the only person who seems to comprehend their decision is John.
As the couple prepares to move, they are forced to reconsider. Frank is offered a promotion, and April becomes pregnant again. When Frank discovers she is contemplating having an abortion, he is furious and starts screaming at April, leading to a serious altercation, in which April says that they had their second child only to prove the first child was not a “mistake”.
The next day, Frank takes the promotion and tries to accept his uneventful life. At the end of an evening at a jazz bar with the Campbells, Shep and April end up alone together. She confides in him of her depression over the canceled Paris plans and her life in general, and they end up having sex in the car. Shep professes his long-held love for April, but she rejects his interest.
The following day, Frank confesses to having had an affair, hoping to reconcile with April. To his surprise, April responds apathetically and tells him it does not matter, as her love for him has gone, which he does not believe. The Givings come over for dinner, and Frank announces to the guests that their plans have changed because April is pregnant. John harshly lambasts Frank for crushing April’s hope, as well as his acceptance of his circumstances. Angered, Frank nearly attacks John, and the Givings hurry out. Afterwards, Frank and April have a severe verbal altercation, after which April flees the house.
Frank spends the night in a drunken stupor. The next morning he is shocked to find April in the kitchen, calmly making breakfast as if nothing had happened. Frank, unsure of how to react, eats with her. Before leaving for work, he asks April if she hates him. She tells him, of course not. April then calmly goes upstairs to the bathroom, where she—offscreen—performs a vacuum aspiration abortion on herself. Afterwards, she discovers she is bleeding and calls an ambulance. Frank arrives at the hospital, distraught, and is comforted by Shep. April dies in the hospital from blood loss.
Frank, feeling deep guilt and now a hollow shell of his former self, moves to the city and starts selling computers. He spends all of his extra time with his children. A new couple, the Braces, buys the house and Milly tells the story of the Wheelers to them. Shep stands up and walks out of the house, crying. Milly follows Shep and asks him what is wrong. He tells her he never wants to talk about the Wheelers ever again. Milly agrees that they don’t have to.
Helen talks to her husband, years later, about how the Braces seem to be the best-suited couple for the Wheelers’ old house. When her husband mentions the Wheelers, Helen starts to talk about why she did not like them. As she continues talking about all of the things that she did not like about them, her husband turns off his hearing aid.