Michael Shannon received his first Oscar nomination for portraying John Givings in Revolutionary Road.
Michael Shannon portrays a plot contrivance the son of one the Wheelers friends who has been in an institution and is mentally unbalanced. The whole point of his character seems to be the Oscar nominated character for the film, since John acts as the only one who will tell those suburbanites that they are the soulless individuals they are. This is not to say that Michael Shannon performance is bad, but his character's whole existence is a little questionable.
Shannon shows up in three scene to chew the scenery a bit particularly in his first and last scenes. Again this does not mean its bad, after all the performance and character seemed setup just to be the Oscar nominated supporting performance for the film. It is true that since his character is suppose to be intrusive as well as mentally unbalanced it would be technically wrong for his performance to be quiet but I don't think the part of John has to be quite actory fashion Shannon chooses to portray him.
All three scenes he wants to steal with his performance which makes John seem frankly more intrusive than he some ways should be, because he seems intrusive through what feels like a performance more than what feels like actually human behavior but than again the character in itself is just a plot device to be used therefore I suppose Shannon's method is supportive of that fact. I do think though John would have been more interesting if he had been portrayed more realistic and in a less purposefully showy manner.
I should not be mistaken though because Shannon still is effective in the role. He is intense and certainly entertaining as he acts out his part. He never came alive as a mentally disturbed man exactly but he did act well as the plot device he was written as has. The doubt and hatred John fires up is most certainly understandable through Shannon's striking performance. He does control his scenes without question and certainly makes it so cannot avoid John's observations.
Shannon performance does work in context for the film which I highly doubted really wanted a more realistic and depth filled approach, which I think perhaps Shannon could have pulled off to, but the film does not care about who John really is it just wants him to cause conflict within the film when it needs him to. It really is a missed opportunity for both Shannon and a character for his character to less than he frankly could have been. John easily could have been a great very memorable character, but as it is Shannon gives a strong enough performance but not one that stays with you too long after watching the film.