Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Road - Review

How would you imagine the world will end?

Asteroid? Alien invasion? Robotic uprising? Mad scientist? Nuclear War? No, what if the world ended with a small whimper, a cold devastating cancer, choking it until there is nothing left. Some slightly drastic minded people may even think that it is happening right now. Am I one of them? Nah I'm just here to review a film.

Brought to us by Austrailian director John Hillcoat is the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel, The Road. For those who have not had the great pleasure of reading the book, it tells the tale of a man (Viggo Mortensen) as he and his son wander the barren, bleak, hopeless landscape of north-eastern America in search of food, shelter and the 'good guys'.

Overall I found the film quite frustrating to watch, obviously because I had already read the book I could probably bitch and moan for what they may or may have left out. However my problem with the film wasn't the adaptation itself because it managed to stay amazingly close to the source material. The main problem with the film was that disconnection it had with the audience. Oh sure it is horrifying to watch anyone, never mind an innocent man and child suffer through this godless landscape but never once did I truly feel for the characters, like I did when I read the book. One of the most cringing aspects of the story, and this goes for the book as well as the film was that stupidly convenient 'Hollywood' ending, I shall not spoil it here but lord it really felt as though it was shoved in there to put the audiences' minds at ease.

That said however the production of the film was hard to fault, it was beautiful and one wonders why Godspeed You! Black Emperor didn't reform to personally take on the soundtrack. Despite the characters themselves feeling hollow, the cast performed admirably in the circumstances, Viggo Mortenson is one of the finest leading men in western cinema at this current time and The Road is thankful for the talent and effort he put into it. Similarly Kodi Smit-McPhee was equally impressive as The Boy displaying that genuinely pure innocence in a world bereft of it.

Where the film does truly shine is in the smaller moments that it tends to neglect in favour of tense chases from cannibal rednecks and one flashback too many with Charlize Theron's character. The stand out scene being my favourite moment in the book itself where a wandering blind man (played by the legendary Robert Duvall no less...) encounters the father/son duo and offers his words of wisdom regarding the whole ordeal.

Final Thoughts
John Hillcoat's bleak, barren, horrid vision of the future does not make for easy or causal viewing. Unfortunately neither does the film itself. Though cast put their hearts and souls into their performances it makes for little reward to the audience having to sit through its two hour running time. Oscar quality film making, but not, I regret to say, Oscar quality in its delivery.


See This If You Like...
Children Of Men, No Country For Old Men

The Road is in all cinemas now.

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