Review: The Road (2009)

The Road (2009)
119 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by John Hillcoat
Starring:  Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron

Grade:  B

Having read the novel written by Cormac McCarthy, I was very interested in seeing the approach Hillcoat took to try and adapt this beautifully haunting adventure about a man and his son as they travel South for the winter in a post-apocalytpic world.

There is no explanation about what happened, nor is it important.  All you know is that the devastation happened years ago.  After the man and his son have been living inside their home for while, they ran out of supplies and realized they couldn’t survive another winter in their house.  So they embark down the road and pray there’s a warmer and friendlier place than where they are now.

There are barely any people left, no animals, no plants, and practically no food.  They wheel a shopping cart of their essentials to survive that include a tarp, blankets, food, a lighter, and a gun.  A combination of ash and snow litters their world.

The state of the living is a brutal one.  Survival of the fittest among the remaining humans result in the strong dominating the weak.  We are shown of the unethical ways these people live, such as cannibalism.  The man tries his best to explain the dangers of these people.  He says they’re the “bad guys.”  His son believes him.

The Road takes us on an exhausting and depressing journey.  The man knows there is little hope for the two of them, but he keeps moving along because of the boy.  He is all that gives the man hope.  When the boy questions why they keep going on, the man says “because we’re carrying the fire.”  Tapping his chest, the boy seems to understand.  This is what keeps the boy going on as well.

Viggo Mortensen is very convincing as the protective father, paranoid of every little sound to keep himself and his son alive.  Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the fearful child very well, along with expressing his innocent and childish thoughts that brings out a warmness to the man’s cold exterior.

From an unfilmable novel, Hillcoat does his best to extract the emotion from McCarthy’s work an onto the screen.  Although it never hits home like the literature did, I couldn’t imagine a movie that looked as much as the book portrayed.  From the falling ash to the bleak sky and the colorless ocean, the film certainly ‘looked’ like it was supposed to.

The Road certainly isn’t an easy film to watch.  There are barely any bright moments during their never-ending path in Hell.  The realism in the movie is honest and truthful.  When everythin in the world is gone, what is there left to cling onto?  For the man, his son and the memories of his wife motivates him enough to keep going.  They still give him a glimmer of hope, because without hope, no one is able to take that next step down the road.

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