The Road (2009) John Hillcoat
Production Budget: $25 million
Worldwide Gross: $27 million
The story of The Road is simple enough. A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world. They are trying to head south and toward the shoreline for hopefully better climate, better people, and food. The reason for why the world is in the state its in is never told (although there are frequent earthquakes); the pair just have to survive.
To start off I’ll say this is a bleak movie. Very bleak. There is no hope that the world will get better, no hope civilization will return, and no hope there is any sign these people will live anything that even remotely comes close to a comfortable life. They have to claw, scratch, and bite for everything they have. This is about removing everything including hope and still finding a drive for survival. When everything is gone, these characters will still fight for even one more second of life.
I mention the bleak tone because this will affect some people. I have to say that there are some scenes in this movie that even I, the most jaded and experienced nerd, was even shocked by. This will be a difficult movie to see and I can understand people not wanting to go into a real downer. If you do recognize what you are getting into then I think you will be fine.
The plot is minimalist (much like the book from what I hear). There is not a traditional story arc with a climax or anything like that. This is more episodic from their experiences along the road. Because of the episodic nature, the movie can seem to meander a bit between chapters and you may be left wondering when the story will actually conclude. But when you do get into the next full chapter you will be brought back into the excitement. These chapters are very intense because we are dealing with a father trying to protect his son from the very bottom of what society has degenerated to. As I said, their evasion and dealings with them are very intense.
The acting is great. Viggo Mortensen carries the movie and does a lot with limited dialog and actions. The child actor is also surprisingly good. You also get some appearances from great actors. These appearances will not take you out of the action; these guys are so heavy in makeup that I was struggling to find out where I knew these people.
The look of the movie is also striking. I wouldn’t dare call this beautiful but the visuals are impressive. We get large scale visions of this desolate wasteland and the gray muted color palate is memorable.
This movie is bold and it makes no compromises to try to make it more acceptable to the general public. This is a difficult movie but at the same time I thought it was great. For those that did have high hopes for this movie coming from the source material, then I don’t think you will be disappointed. I recommend this movie.