The Road (2009)

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Overall Rating 72%
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Ranked #598
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A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind and water. It is cold enough to crack stones, and, when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the warmer south, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. --TMDb
Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen
Kodi Smit-McPhee
Kodi Smit-McPhee
Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
Guy Pearce
Guy Pearce
Molly Parker
Molly Parker
Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 21, 2009
This is not an easy film to watch. In fact, it's one of the most difficult films I've had to sit through this year, almost as gut-wrenching as "Precious". It's based on a popular and critically acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy, who some believe to be the greatest writer to come around in a hundred years or more. "The Road", a stark, sad and depressing novel has been transformed into "The Road", a stark, sad and depressing film. But, there is a light in the center of this film, a humanity and a sweetness that make it one of the best films of the year. I give much of that credit to director John Hillcoat, who knows how to balance the apocalyptic imagery with the tight bond between father and son which is the centerpiece of this film.

All we, the audience, know is that something cataclysmic has happened and the world is dead. This could be Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, death from above -- a number of earth-ending scenarios. A father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are traveling across the desolate landscape making their way down South towards the coast. The film chronicles their journey as they deal with the elements, a gang of cannibals hot on their trail and their own growing hunger and emotional distress. Mortensen's wife (Charlize Theron) is seen through flashbacks and we seen their relationship and why she's no longer with them. While there are some scenes of intensity, mostly involving the cannibals, the crux of this film is the relationship between the father and son who love each other unconditionally and rely on one another for everything.

Mortensen's performance really carries this film. He has shown, time and time again, that he is one of the strongest actors working today and "The Road" might be his best performance yet. We see his strength, yet we see his weakness. He plays a man who will do whatever it takes to protect his son but has an internal struggle with what he is doing and how he will handle taking care of his son if the moment comes. Mortensen lights up the screen and adds so much depth to this character. Robert Duvall turns in a fine supporting performance as Eli, a drifter who briefly 'befriends' them. Charlize Theron is quite powerful in her few scenes as the mother, and Guy Pearce appears at the end of the film in a very unrecognizable role.

With all of the doom and gloom dripping from this picture, there is a sweetness and a humanity that swept me up. There is so much heart and so much optimism even in the most wretched of circumstances and the ending of the film ripped my heart out, stepped on it a few times and then threw it off a cliff. I was not expecting to enjoy "The Road" as much as I did but it's one of the finest films I've seen this year. Along with "The Proposition", John Hillcoat is really establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. And I will make special mention of the haunting and memorable score from Nick Cave. I hope this film is rewarded come Oscar time. 9/10.
grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 12/22/2009, 02:40 AM
Big fan of the book and I loved this movie. Draining is a good word for it, but I mean that in a good way.

KING GRIEF #2: KING GRIEF - added 12/24/2009, 04:37 AM
good fucking book, cannot wait to see the movie.
Chad #3: Chad - added 04/09/2010, 12:02 PM
This one was just downright hard to watch, but that's not a condemnation of the film itself. It's just that the overall movie is so depressing and bleak, while the characters are just so miserable and helpless. Great storytelling and acting though, even if you have to pop a few Prozac after the credits have rolled. 9/10.
Greg Follender #4: Greg Follender - added 05/30/2010, 01:58 AM
An excellent adaptation of a fine book...

Still... it lacks a bit of the poetry of the written story, opting instead for a relentless, grinding sort of narrative that the book intersperses with contemplative internal dialogue to break up the monotonous misery of the characters. Regardless, the heart of the tale comes through this cinematic retelling to great effect.

I just wish that more of the sublime internal narration of the Father from the book found it's way into the film... but that is just a personal preference.
The film works well even without it.

A rare example of a Director truly honoring his source material in an almost reverent fashion.
An achievement that is tragically under-appreciated among most filmmakers these days.

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