The Road

The Road is one of the most frightening, dark and despairing books to have been written in the last decade but it struck a chord with readers, selling millions of copies around the world and winning the Pulitzer Prize for its author, Cormac McCarthy.

The last film adapted from one of McCarthy’s novels, The Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, went on to win four Oscars, including Best Film, and similar success looks likely for Australian director John Hillcoat’s hypnotically bleak film, a chilling vision of the end of days that sticks closely to the story McCarthy hammered out in his unique staccato style.

The apocalypse is a recurring theme in recent cinema, with filmmakers tripping over themselves to forecast how the curtain will drop on planet earth. Roland Emmerich’s tongue-in-cheek adventure 2012 bewildered us with neutrinos before scrambling for the safety of the Ark. Hillcoat gives us, simply, fire. An unexplained cataclysmic blaze races across the world, turning everything in its path to ashes. An unnamed man (Viggo Mortensen) and his ten year old son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) walk through a country reduced to embers and swirls of smoke, an unchanging grey sky smothering a blasted planet in sooty rain. There is almost nothing to eat and little clean water. Everything is covered in choking ash. The man and his son are pushing a shopping-trolley with their few possessions along an endless road, moving south in the hope of finding the sun and any sign of life.

As the two walk, they encounter other survivors, a blind old man (Robert Duvall), a thief (Michael Kenneth Williams, Omar Little from The Wire), and an unseen assailant with a bow and arrow. The man keeps a gun strapped to his chest with just two bullets remaining, a safeguard against being captured alive by the gangs of cannibals who roam the roads, looking for survivors. He snatches a few hours of sleep when he can, disturbed by dreams of his wife (Charlize Theron), who deserted them years ago, when she walked out into the blaze, unable to contemplate the future.

To say any more would ruin the story for those who have not read McCarthy’s book. Hillcoat and his screenwriter Joe Penhall have removed some of McCarthy’s more gruesome episodes and placed their emphasis on the spiritual elements of the story but much of the overwhelming threat, violence and despair remains. The Road is a feel-bad film, relentlessly so, but it is a beautiful one; conceived and realised with dreadful exactitude.


lingu said...

Hi , H haven't seen the movie yet , but Vigo is my favorite actor and I like him a lot. I am dying to see the movie on DVD. I am an Iranian blogger and they don't show the American movies on theaters.By the way I have linked you in my blog. I follow your posts on your blog. thanks.

Lozzie Cap said...

I am not at all sure I want to see this film, which makes me feel even more compelled to watch it. Does that make sense?

Ian Kementsetsidis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
borknagar said...

So boring and stupid. This is a movie not a book so treat us like smart people please