The Road Review
3 September 2009
Image Macall Polay.
© 2929/Dimension Films/MGM.
The Road has been long awaited, because of its status as an adaptation of one of the most important novels of the 21st century. The wait has been more anxious because Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed best seller was in the hands of unknown film-maker John Hillcoat, (3 films in 20 years, including the scandalously ignored The Proposition.) Fans can relax: Hillcoat appears to have been the man for the job. By the end of this cinematic year, The Road will be one of its major events.
In just one hour and 45 minutes, we witness the birth of a (small) classic, a strong and very moving work in which the mastery of the story leaves us gasping with admiration. A tour de force, for which the flow of the story of the journey of a father and his young son in a post-apocalyptic America, could be legendary. Constantly sweeping aside misery, never seeking to overstate the characteristics of a situation already wretched enough, nor to visually show off (although the sublime setting and the story would have allowed this) Hillcoat selected the noble pathway to touch our hearts: sobriety.
Mindful that the subject matter and the settings are already strong enough to captivate his audience, the director strives never to exaggerate them, and concentrates his effort on the human drama which takes shape. Always on a humanistic level, and with equal shares are his two remarkable leading actors, allowed to create one of the most magnificent father-son relationships seen on a cinema screen. Identification with this hopeless couple, whose hope of survival rests solely in their mutual love and affection, is rather easy. We suffer with them, we are their invisible companion on this increasingly sombre voyage. From one memorably presented meeting to the next, like the one with a towering Robert Duvall, the mix works to make the film into a sensitive and moving experience.
Each image burns itself onto our retina. We shrink into our seats, and the more the darkness of the story envelops the screen, the more we sense the immediate necessity to profit from each passing moment. The Road sternly reminds us that life is fragile and that love is the best remedy we have. Lump in the throat! Splendid!
Last edited: 9 October 2009 13:56:26