Genre: Action & Adventure
Runtime: 1 hr 51 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron
The feel good movie of the year... NOT.
Review by: thesubstream
Added: 3 years ago
John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road matches that book’s bleakness at every step, worming out slowly the same hard-won, gritty sense of hope in the face of utter ruin.
Set 10 or so years after an unspecified apocalypse darkened the skies and turned the weather and tipped America’s survivors into vicious, dirty, perpetual conflict over dwindling resources – even shoes are priceless, let alone bullets or canned food – The Road follows a father, the Man (Viggo Mortenson) and his son, the Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), as they struggle to make their way to the mythical “coast”.
McCarthy and Hillcoat’s vision of life after the fall of civilization is horrifying, unvarnished and grey, two frozen, silent sentinels trudging through blasted, hostile woods under a dead sky. There is no Mad Max, no swashbuckling on the last of the V8 Interceptors, no heroism, just death and disease and some few moments of respite. The man teaches the boy how to shoot himself, rather than be taken by the cannibals. The Road is not light fare.
It’s atypical, it’s original and different, and not everyone will or should enjoy it. As a film, complete and done, it’s extremely, extremely good at achieving its goals; it is perhaps the most authentic-seeming apocalypse movie ever (knowing, of course, that that’s just conjecture). It’s beautiful, in its way, a gift, offering up a small joy to see a film so carefully, traditionally crafted in these days of CGI domination. The film feels crafted and whole, the work of a team all reading from the same bible and understanding it, and doing things the hard way. Aging props and muddying actors’ faces and teeth and finding black dead sets and locations rather than building it in a computer later. It’s a film that tears at its audience. At its heart is the bond between a man and his son, a pair that must face unending horror and depression sprinkled here and there with flashes of hope and joy – the boy tasting a can of cola for the first time – that are literally just blips, just moments in a relationship that decay has made untenable. It is not about the power of love or hope, about heroism or bravery, it is about the need to endure, to last through. It’s a stunning, powerful film, an elegy for us all and a hymn to the power of faith, not in any higher power but faith in the idea that things will go on, some how, if we can go on. It’s not going to be for everyone, but for those that can endure its bleakness, it offers a new kind of gray, sooty human beauty. 8.8/10