An Unforgettable Journey That Cuts To The Bone
29 January 2010
Image Macall Polay.
© 2929/Dimension Films.
Imagine America depleted of everything living bar a few remaining living dead: humans turned scavengers ever on the move through blighted landscapes and pillaged towns shrouded in grimy fog. Like in the book it is not clear which sudden catastrophe actually sucked the power out of the world ten years prior in director John Hillcoat's The Road. What is clear is the film version of Cormac McCarthy's (No Country for Old Men) 2007 Pulitzer-winning, killing you more swiftly than softly, page-turner of a novel of the same title, is a worthy and faithful adaptation.
Father (Mortensen) and son (Smit-McPhee) choose to survive in this post-apocalyptic nightmare - out of unbending faith that there's a life worth living somewhere out there or undying love for each other. Wife/mother (Theron) is long gone, voluntarily disappearing in the vast, dark nothingness and putting an end to this non-life. Had it not been for the man's steadfastness, she would have taken the boy with her. Possibly a more merciful option than running the very real risk of being caught, raped, killed and eaten.
Of all the scenes, shot remarkably well by Vicky Christina Barcelona director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe, there is one that particularly shows the sheer horror of mankind losing all moral soundness. Man and boy stumble into a house and then break into a cellar where an unspeakable scene in dim light greets them.
But what really rips you up, apart from watching the 11-year-old boy being dragged through all the grime, is the boy's continual pleading with his father whether they are still the good guys. Because wouldn't any grown man in such a godforsaken place lose his mind and contemplate digging into the flesh, be it for consumption or eradication, of the thief or the old man (a divine Duvall in his best cameo since Apocalypse Now) they come across on their way. The man has the alternative to shoot the boy and himself with the only two cartridges left in his gun. Does he use them? Come on, we all know that a little luck and undying paternal love conquers all.
The raw, cold and stripped of emotion feel of The Road, which is exemplarily embodied by Charlize Theron's role and performance, is exactly what makes this film heart rendering. Mortensen and Smit-McPhee - it's a good thing the young boy comes from a close-knit family with an actor-father as a mentor - come so close to reality in their performances that it's dazzling and shattering at once.
Last edited: 12 February 2010 14:43:15