From Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country For Old Men, comes the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road. An all-star cast are featured in this epic... more » post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of a father and his young son as they journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. A masterpiece adventure, The Road boldly imagines a future in which men are pushed to the worst and the best that they are capable of - a future in which a father and his son are sustained by love.« less
I didn't read the book, so my review is based on only what I saw in the movie.
PROS: Very gritty filming and 'feel' of a post-apocalyptic setting. Mortensen and company truly look grimy, nasty teeth, etc. For the most part, Viggo is a believable 'hero' for the story. Special effects are good and the actors seem to do well with what they are given. The story doesn't really get much into why the world ended as much as it studies the psychological impact on the survivors (however the special features trailers strongly suggest global climate change is the culprit). Probably one of the more severe apocalyptic scenarios I have seen in that ALL life other than bugs and humans are gone - there are apparently no plants or animals left alive on Earth. The survivors eke out a living by eating small insects, leftover canned goods from before, or eating each other.
CONS: Character motivation was really the greatest problem for me. Mortensen's character is strongly adverse to committing suicide and staying alive, but then frequently vacillates between nearly killing himself and his son in some situations. Oddly, his motivation to avoid suicide is not due to his faith, but his desire to 'find the good guys' and 'carry the fire' in his heart. Given that the screenplay very clearly shows an absence of faith by the characters (there is a scene where Viggo and son pray to 'people' rather than God, they sleep in a church that is strangely absent of all furniture - even the altar is gone, Duvall claims God has turned his back on them, etc.), one wonders WHY he believes so strongly in carrying on. Theron plays Mortensen's wife in flashbacks - she urged him to commit suicide many times, then finally kills her self by exposure . . . wandering off into the woods without a coat. Evidently, Mortensen just assumes she is dead and leaves with his son to head south.
I think the screenwriter tries to juxtapose the bleak future with some family clichés, but they end up falling flat or not making sense. Example: At one point, husband and wife are at the dinner table while the son plays in the next room. They argue about whether they should commit suicide, at which point Theron says "All the neighbors are doing it." This is almost comically stupid if it weren't for the constant pressure this movie keeps throughout of despair and hopelessness. Another moment comes when they encounter old man Duvall on the road and father and son have a discussion about whether they can 'keep him' as though he is like finding a stray dog. Mortensen's character has only two opportunities to treat others humanely, and in both cases he is makes a poor example of a 'good guy' for his son. This is probably to make his son seem more like the "God" that Viggo claims him to be, but it just seems out of character when not viewed through the literary prism.
There are action scenes, but Mortensen is not a combat monkey (except for when he hits a guy in a second story window with a flare gun at a range of probably 100 feet and kills him outright) and spends most of the movie running away to protect his son. Annoyingly, his son seemingly has to be carried through a lot of the movie - seems pretty wimpy and pathetic for a kid who has been surviving in the post-holocaust environment for YEARS. I guess I would expect a kid to be a little more resourceful and reliable if raised in that constant-threat environment for such a long time. One last issue - at one point Mortensen is boiling water in a hubcap and then straining though an old rag to drink it . . . I don't understand why he wouldn't just collect rain water from the nearly always present rainstorms that permeate the entire film.
Overall, this movie is clearly making an attempt to play to the interests of global warming disaster movies, as such a positive ending is not really the goal. The theme of the movie seems to be that humans were stupid and did this to themselves, so it makes it all the more difficult to buy into Mortensen's search for the 'good guys' and his prayers to 'people' during the film.
Watch this film for it's treatment of visual displays and costuming (which are excellent) - if you are a fan of zombie movies or action flicks, you should probably pass.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sean Y. (theseanster) from CLYDE, TX Reviewed on 9/4/2013...
While the overall tone of the movie is depressing. I thought it was a very moving film. It really doesn't try to answer any questions, but instead asks the viewer the question "What would you do if you were placed in this situation?" It has a few extremely creepy parts that will forever be burned into my mind. One in particular, and it really is not because of what you see on screen, rather the horror of what you infer happens off screen.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
S A A. (Learned2Heal) Reviewed on 1/1/2012...
I have to concur fully with a previous reviewer: this movie is seriously depressing and totally pointless. Also, when they are listing the genres, they should - in all fairness - include that this is also (more so) a horror movie. It gave me the creeps and there was no ray of hope at the end, as some of the reviews would lead one to believe. It leaves you wondering if the child is really (relatively) safe or not...
Finally, if you are going to see this movie because it promises a performance by Guy Pearce - don't hold your breath. He appears only at the very end, looking like a younger David Carradine, and only for about 2.5 minutes in all. If you are already depressed, I would caution you NOT to see this movie. It will not improve your mood at all. And that's stating it mildly...
3 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robert G. (rural631) from SPRINGFIELD, MO Reviewed on 10/9/2010...
Suicide is a constant theme in the movie. The movie is so depressing and pointless and the characters so miserable you'll start wishing they would.
3 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Andrea S. (asilvey) from ORLANDO, FL Reviewed on 6/7/2010...
Was very dissapointed in this one! Was not at all what we had expected. This movie is sooo depressing that we could not finish it. My Husband said that he would walk out of this movie on an airplane LOL! If you are like me and watch movies to escape from everyday life then this one is not for you. Too dark of a subject for me! Too much talk of suicide! The Father played by Viggo Mortenson even shows his son how to kill himself! They also walk into a barn and see a family who has hung themselves! This movie could drive you to suicide!
4 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
"We're The Good Guys, They're The Bad Guys"
prisrob | New EnglandUSA | 11/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The stark, black and white, post-apocalyptic, world I pictured in my mind while reading Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' is forever laid out in memory in the film by director, John Hillcoat. The real world after a series, of fires and disasters have destroyed the world we know, and 'The Road' is as visible a film as any I have seen.
Many rumors of this film and how it could never live up to the hype of the novel have been swirling through the Internet. What we have here is a masterpiece of a film. It is a powerful vision of a world ten years after some sort of disaster took over. The scenes were shot in post Katrina, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and what they call the 'Abandoned Pennsylvania Highway'. Into this harrowing world marches a man, played by Viggo Mortensen and his son, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, trying to find their way to warmth. The coldness of the world is marked, and we can feel the chill. What they encounter is a horror filled world, one in which a group of cannibals keep a farm of humans with missing limbs in their basement. Gangs of marauders around every corner. We see their day to day existence, filthy as they march along, trying to scrape up food to keep alive. They find a house where a left over can of coke amazes the boy, he has never seen it before, and they gorge themselves with food before marching on once again. The stark reality of their life is measured against the gray world where everything is dying. And in this world, the man is teaching his son about goodness versus evil. What we come to see is that the love of this man for his son is the light that may keep this struggle alive. The absence of a God is evident. The pureness of the son may be the antidote.
Charlize Theron plays the mother in a small part, and she portrays the lack of hope that seems so evident throughout the film. Robert Duvall is the Old Man who conveys bits of wisdom. The son wants to help those who are crying for help, but his father tells him they must move on. They can only trust each other. This film is all about the father and his son. Viggo Mortensen is tremendous in this role, and he plays in every scene. The son is as he should be, watchful, hopeful, luminous at times.
The agony of the life that is left to the father and his son is conveyed with such realism. John Hillcoat has captured the feel and the look of the novel. It was difficult at times to keep watching, but then I had to watch. We all want the man and his son to succeed. They are our hope. "We're the good guys, they're the bad guys" is the message the father is conveying. But deep inside there is the hope that the boy and his father will find more.
Highly Highly Recommended. prisrob 11-29-09
A History of Violence (New Line Platinum Series)
The Proposition [Blu-ray]"
Moving, Excellent Film
Stephen Ashley | Florida, USA | 01/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I won't repeat the theme as other reviewers have done this. Though this film does take place in a very bleak and hopeless time as others have mentioned, it still projects hope and displays intense, dedicated love. This is much of what makes the movie as good as it is. In a time when there should be no hope, the father and son hold on to each other. They search for something that they have no right to hope in, a place where they can be safe and fed. It may not even exist, yet they take to the road despite the fact that many others have given up. They choose to hope.
The relationship between the father and son was so well acted that it was very believable. Viggo Mortenson played this father determined to protect his son with such a fierce passion and vulnerability that it was mesmerizing. The actor playing the son was just as fantastic. Vulnerable and innocent, with such trust of the father, reacting to the evil in the world, but still wanting to do good. It was moving.
This was a movie that makes you think. It showed that in desperate circumstances, some will give up and choose death, some will choose evil to survive, others will choose to do no harm while surviving, and still others will risk everything to do good despite what they're up against. It was very true to life.
This film was powerful, fascinating and well done, and I recommend it."
A hard film to like-slight spoilers
Val | RI | 03/23/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Someone asked me if I liked The Road, upon watching it. I had no answer. The Road is just one of those films that is too hard to describe. Is the movie good? Well, yes it is-that is a far easier question to answer. I have read the book and must say that the film really does it justice. It is bleak, dreary, utterly depressing and flawlessly acted.
Viggo Mortensen is a man with no name, who, alone with his son (also no name) is attempting to survive what seems to be some sort of apocalypse. We never see what transpired-we only see the aftermath. We are not given a timeline, though you can judge for yourself how long man and son have been attempting to 'live'. Mortensen carries the entire film on his weathered and weary shoulders. I cannot gush enough about his performance-in any film really. But here, you only have to look into his eyes-so full of soul and despair to realise that not only is this man acting, he is really and truly transformed. Just incredible really.
The atmosphere is grainy and desolate, without color of any kind and as you watch, you slowly go mad envisioning what you would do in such a situation. The film features horrors that include cannibalism and at one point, you see the father teach his son how to properly kill himself if anything should ever happen to him. Very disturbing.
By film's end, you are mentally exhausted. This is not a fast-paced film at all. It is purposefully slow-going and I believe that was done with the intent to transport you inside the film itself, and in my mind, it succeeds. After the credits started to roll, I found myself depressed for the rest of the day. This is probably one of the most desolate films I've ever seen, so I would avoid it if you like your films with satisfying ending-because this isn't it."
Satisfying Film - Better For Fans of the Book
D. Barbour | Shrewsbury, MA | 12/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009) (Vintage International) is one of my favorite books, so I was nervous about the adaptation to the screen. Fortunately, the film respected it's source material and contains one powerful visual after the next. The film is perfectly cast, very well acted, and adequately written. When you have such a descriptive book as "The Road", it's hard to capture everything - and the film does a good job but doesn't completely succeed. Without spoiling the ending, I will just say I think the emotional sting the book leaves is better than the film. This is also such a dark film I think those not familiar with the source material might find it too dark and depressing. It's certainly not for everyone, but for fans of the book, it's a nice companion."
It is the road that connects us.
C. Gordon | Okhahoma City | 05/09/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Road," written by Cormac McCarthy, is a stark look at what the world would be like with civilization suddenly taken away from us. Spare and erudite, this book is a rage against the cynicism that man is inherently evil by diving straightaway into an environment in which such men would not only thrive, but prosper.
Like a lengthening of the poem, "Darkness," by Lord Byron, we enter after the fall of society. "The Road" tells the story of a man and a boy heading south to escape the brutal existence of surviving after some type of unnamed catastrophic event.
The boy, born after the catastrophic event, knows only the world of the apocalypse. Along the road, they encounter a scattered variety of survivors, each coping with this harsh world in their own tragic stories.
Capitalizing on the apocalypse fantasy that captures the imagination of so many, from zombie to nuclear, McCarthy takes a closer look at what the world would look like in the face of extinction.
So, the film.
Director John Hillcoat was responsible for a film similar in tone (The Proposition) that makes "The Road" seem a perfect fit. For those that have seen "The Proposition," you will remember it as a brutal and stark film. Most who I have talked to who have seen this film were left uncomfortable and upset. For such a film, I consider this a positive result.
I very much expected the same treatment for "The Road." But Hillcoat took a more family friendly approach. "The Road," much like "The Proposition," unfolds like poetry and is in its scope an allegorical fable.
Hillcoat deftly intertwines these story-telling techniques without being heavy handed or intrusive to the story moving forward. He shows, with some slight alterations, that this film's goal is to translate the intent of the novel. I consider the film to be an elaborate multi-media illustration that highlights the more positive aspects of the book and downplays its harsher elements.
Not the movie I either wanted or expected, but a good film, just the same.
For me, the real drive of "The Road," (the film), is in its performances.
I will give a quick nod to the leads, who have had more than enough written about them.
I would like to say that I have read some unfair criticism about the performance given by Kodi Smit-McPhee. His performance is the only real arc in the film. He goes from being kept a little boy to being forced to step forward and exemplify the teachings his father gave him back to his own father. This is tough to pull off.
One criticism I read was that he should be hardened and that he acted like a boy half his age. He's homeschooled and scared shitless!!! Now he's being forced out of hiding into a world full of cannibals and bad guys. How's he supposed to act?
It is apparent to me that the reviewer that wrote this criticism has never met a child or a violent person.
One of my favorite parts of the film, and the most telling of Smit-McPhee's performance, was when Viggo Mortensen says that the child is not the one that has to worry about everything. To which the child replies, "Yes, I am! I am the one." Basically saying that if it wasn't for him, his father might be even more brutal and savage, perhaps being reduced to the savagery that surrounds them.
Managing to put together one of the best casts in film history, this film is a collection of brilliant short performances that shows real actors take small parts as serious as lead roles.
In order, these tiny, acting gems starts with Charlize Theron. Playing the part of "woman," she acts as the Eve to this inhospitable casting out of Eden. While brief, Theron's performance is melancholic and disturbing. In a short time frame, she gives the audience all they need to know about what to expect from the film. Her performance never allows you to feel sorry for her. She keeps you, her husband and child at a distance. She sees the reality of the situation and, while it is overwhelming for her, she has a clear understanding of its meaning. In her, we see the absence of society and that continuing forward is a pointless endeavor that will end tragically.
It is just a matter of deciding the severity of the end, whether it be heartbreaking, brutal, or worst of all, heartbreakingly brutal.
Next comes a character actor who you have probably seen but may not have learned his name yet.
Garret Dillahunt, probably most recognizable from television shows such as "Deadwood," "The Sarah Conner Chronicles," and his role as Deputy Wendell in "No Country for Old Men," Dillahunt plays a marauder who hunts humans in "The Road."
Dillahunt's performance is chilling, and for those that have read the novel, spot on. In a matter of moments we are convinced that this man has a lot of experience capturing humans. He knows what they will and will not do.
Learn this actor's name. You'll need to know it very soon.
Much has been said about Robert Duvall's performance in this film and I will not do much to add to the praise here accept to say, it's Robert fricking Duvall!!!! Do you understand!!?!! If you don't, well, then you shouldn't see this film. Or any film for that matter.
Then there's Michael K. Williams. Many of you will recognize him as Omar Little from the greatest television show in the history of television, "The Wire." To be my favorite character from my favorite show pretty much makes you fail proof. But Williams doesn't rest on his laurels, giving a performance that makes you understand not just this criminal, but all criminals.
When he is left standing naked in the road, you are left with him. Wondering how to solve this problem before it happens in your own life.
Finally, in this array of bit parts, are Guy Pearce and Molly Parker. Rounding out the brilliant performances in this movie, these two bookend this ensemble cast with the skill that is expected of them.
There are some deviations that I find hard to believe, such as the cutting out the pregnant woman scene that was in the book, a vital change that keeps me from thinking this could have been one of the best films I've ever seen. But I love this movie so much that it gets a pass.
Add in the brilliant costuming, production design, props, and cinematography, this film has an honesty all its own, while arguably being a little too tidy.
Another one of my favorite things in the film is at the end. As the credits roll, the score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is simply the ambient noise of people talking, birds, distant traffic, sounds that you suddenly love all the more for the lack of it in the film.
In the end, I say, see the movie, then read the book. While the movie will help to illustrate the vastness of the apocalypse visually, the book will take those visuals and lay them over the deeper, more literate meaning, ensuring that the apocalypse's true meaning is understood and internalized effectively.
In closing I would like to say that this work that McCarthy has done has shown me the importance of my life and my place in this world.
For years I have been in love with notion of apocalypse.
The irony of the dream of apocalypse is that it gives the reader or viewer or gamer, depending on the medium, an escape from their "nine to five" existence.
They see their lives as a mundane struggle to survive. In fact, it is the opposite that is true.
All around them are multiple avenues to connect with others; groups, events, social networking sites...hell, eharmony and [...], if they're brave enough.
The very roads they drive on and the stores they shop in are proof that they are directly engaged with those around them. This invisible web of humanity that surrounds them every day is above their ability to comprehend, taking its safety and inclusive protection for granted.
Instead they fantasize about the crumbling of civilization to finally prove their individual worth.
In the apocalyptic wasteland, their lives will have meaning in the search for food and the banding together of family and friends; a dream of heroism the equivalent to jumping on a gang of bank robbers in the middle of a heist or defusing a bomb moments before it is set to detonate.
McCarthy shows the apocalypse as a stripping away of these elements. You will lose your family. You will lose your friends. You will lose the will to live. You will die nameless like an animal in a vast tract of wilderness.
Like Love and War, the Apocalypse has been stripped of its romantic sheen. Stripped clean by McCarthy's understanding of what is most important to human survival. Not the petty squabbles and allegiances that we hold so dear, but something so much more important.
His tale is about more than the importance of our individuality, but instead about the importance and beauty of civilization. How important and sacred a concept this is.
The roads aren't just to drive on, but connect us to each other. The things we make and the rights we afford each other are sacred and of extreme value.
Books, music, even television are all highlighted and afforded some new value through their absence.
If finding a can of coke in an empty bank on a rundown road many years after everyone is dead and gone can be considered a treasure in our imaginations, then why not now in our reality?
We are in a time of prosperity, a time where we do not have to fear others. This amazing and expansive thing we call human civilization and all that comes with it, no matter how temporary this state of affairs may be or seems to be, is all that matters.
It is civilization that matters, a caring for each and every person in it that matters. Right now, it is the good guys that run the world. Us. We are the good guys. And we must keep moving closer to each other. We must keep watch after each other. We are the ones who have to worry. And we must all be Keepers of the Flame.
So...Buy the book. Buy the movie. Let yourself enjoy the total experience. You won't regret it. I promise."