The Road - Film Review

Posted on 13. Dec, 2009 by in Film/TV

Adapted by Joe Penhall from Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, desperately bleak and heartbreaking novel of the same name, The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of an unnamed father (Viggo Mortensen) and his 11-year-old son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they journey toward the coast across a barren United States which has been destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm.
Unfolding against this unforgiving, elemental backdrop in which survivors are pushed to the best and worst (but mostly just the worst) of what humans are capable of, The Road is essentially about a parent’s calcified hardheartedness in a vicious, nasty world, when circumstances prevent any “bright side” reading and a child is introduced to intolerable cruelty far too young. The problem is that, as directed by John Hillcoat, the film is hopelessly muddled narratively, with one foot trapped in a more conventional American Hollywood narrative and the other rooted in a more esoteric European arthouse aesthetic.
Hillcoat and Penhall never commit in nervy enough fashion to a structure that would make audiences feel the same doomed isolation of the movie’s protagonists — snippets of solemn, doomed voiceover from Mortensen never particularly coalesce in any meaningful way — while leaden flashbacks to Mortensen’s post-incident life with his increasingly frantic and estranged wife (Charlize Theron) add precious little to the unfolding narrative, and various run-ins with drooling hillbilly cannibals give off the vibe of a tony zombie movie.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe delivers a gorgeously depressive backdrop that allows one to sink into the movie and experience it as a sauna of hopelessness, but the more one reflects upon the film upon its conclusion, the dimmer its achievements and hold become. Mortensen gives a committed performance, but Smit-McPhee lacks the acting chops to register as a stand-in for the scared child in all of us.
The end result is basically, in the crudest shorthand possible, despair porn, a la Requiem for a Dream, only without any legitimately earned cathartic emotional release. Who knows, that may be how the world really ends. But moviegoers will clearly prefer Roland Emmerich’s
doomsday visions.

Would Like This: Fans of Road to Perdition, The Postman,
Requiem for a Dream

(R, 3 out of 5)

-Brent Simon

Share this story with your friends:
  • facebook The Road   Film Review
  • twitter The Road   Film Review
  • digg The Road   Film Review
  • stumbleupon The Road   Film Review
  • delicious The Road   Film Review
  • blinklist The Road   Film Review
  • googlebookmark The Road   Film Review
  • email link The Road   Film Review

Related Posts

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments.

Leave a Reply

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wordpress themes