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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: The Road (15) ★★★★★
A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible.


Bleak. Barren. Piercing. Lacking kindliness. These are words that can describe both the character of 'Man' and the post apocalyptic vision of director John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road. Be aware that this is not a happy film, this is about the destruction and breakdown of civilisation, where people have resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. In this world there are no friends, no hope and your only instinct should be that of survival. By any means.

The story tells the journey of Man and Boy (never named) who are heading south to get to the ocean, your never sure of the reason why, just that they feel they should. The post-apocalyptic world they now inhabit is never explained to the viewer, is it nuclear war? a natural disaster? All you know is that there are countless fires raging, consuming every bit of life left to take which makes the effect more menacing, an unseen force. Throughout their journey they must come up against man at his most despicable, who would batter women and children to death for a meal, where every abandoned house is filled with dread and unspoken horrors while all the while slowly starving to death. Told you this was bleak stuff.

Viggo Mortensen plays the Man, gaunt, filthy and without compassion for anyone else other than his young son played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Both leads are truly superb in the characters they portray, showing a astonishing range of emotions over the films 111mins running time. Its a testament to the actors, especially Smit-Mcphee that they pull it off and how both of them were overlooked at the Oscars is a complete mystery to me. The credit for their performance must be attributed to the director who got the most out of everyone associated, every aspect of the film is aimed to devastate and show a collapse of humankind and succeeds on every note.

I could throw all sorts of clichéd terms to describe this film, edge of your seat, terrifying, psychological but there isn't really anything you can bracket this movie into, it stands on it own and what's more draws you in and doesn't let you go until the end credits begin to run. Its quite possibly the best portrait of a post-apocalyptic world that has ever been put up on screen, and yes I include Mad Max in that assessment.

There is only one flaw that I found with the movie and that's the flash back scenes of the family together (including Man's wife played by Charlize Theron) before the disaster took place. This felt tacked on and didn't serve any real purpose to the narrative, they are not present in the novel and I don't think were needed in the movie either.

I urge you to seek out this film, there's not many of this type around and immerse you as much as they should. A definite triumph and should be lauded as such. 


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