The Road

A father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) walk alone through a post-apocalyptic America. It is cold enough to crack stones, and, when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark, the trees are dead, as are all animals and bugs. Few humans exist, and many have turned to cannibalism. Their destination is the Florida coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing, just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless cannibalistic bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a rusting shopping cart of scavenged food, and each other. Directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition) and based on the novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.  

Matt
Rating: 7 out of 10

People are way off when think this movie is another excuse to make a dark film.

In the bleakest and most broad moments — a post-apocalyptic America where people are turning to cannibalism and animals and plants are all dead and few survive — this film captures a most intimate relationship between a father and son. We learn a little about their background with flashbacks where the mother, played nicely by Charlize Theron, gives us clues about what happened to this family.

But we’re never given the cause of the end of civilization — a preachy sermon about global warming or nuclear war. We’re never even given the names of the characters. Any other characters are small, with the exception of an excellent cameo by Robert Duvall as a wandering blind man. Instead, the story and camera focus on a father and son in their most desperate moments and are given very dark sequences. The father keeps a pistol with two bullets, one for each of them. And father shows son how to put the gun in his mouth and how to pull the trigger when the time comes. They stumble across humanity at its lowest, people eating other people, kidnapping and rape.

But in the darkest moments, humanity lives on. We see it in the boy, who represents purity, love and compassion. While the setting is dark, this movie brings us a story of love.

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9 responses to “The Road

  1. Bill Drinkmore

    When I heard they were turning this novel into a movie, I had hoped they might use a hyper-real animation / live action mix like that in Beowolf or 300. Not that I wanted the story told in the same manner, but that the environment seemed to be difficult to replicate on the big screen. However, I like the way it turned out.

    I agree about Robert Duvall’s cameo, very well played.

    • Duvall is just about always great. I haven’t read the book, but it’s on my list of ones to read.

      • Bill Drinkmore

        I am prejudiced since Cormac McCarthy is my favorite author: The Road was an amazingly good book, written in the same sparse style as No Country for Old Men. McCarthy’s ability to paint a scene with words continually amazes me.

        If you have the cajones, give Suttree a try. It was written early in his career in a style that is denser, requiring more work to read, but well worth the effort. Don’t read it though, if you have delicate sensibilities. 😀

  2. brundleflyonthewall

    Good stuff, man. Keep up the writing. I always appreciate reading intelligent commentary about the movies.

  3. Haven’t seen the film, but the book was amazing. After I finished it I had to go outside and just stand in the sun for a while.

    • The movie is very solid. I really want to read the book. I usually read a couple books at a time, and “The Road” just hasn’t pushed its way into my hands.

  4. I read the book and it was a really difficult read. That said, I knew when to fast-forward through the parts I didn’t want to see!

    Very stark film but very well done. I can see how Viggo and the kid would have bonded really closely during this as they said in the bonus materials. Plus the kid was just so natural.

    But it does make you think about the psychological trauma of using child actors for this very adult subject matter. Any lasting repercussions for the kid? I mean, he came off as pretty believable in the film.

  5. Hey Writer Y,

    Thanks for the comments. I think child actors can keep it in perspective as long as they have sound-minded adults around them.

    I think Linda Blair came out alright, and she was in “The Exorcist,” which is about as messed up a role a kid could play.

    I agree the film is dark, but it’s got a good heart.

    Thanks for reading!

    Matt

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