Saturday, June 5, 2010

14 Movie review: The Road

   The Road centers on an unnamed father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggling to survive in a hellish, post-apocalyptic world. Their intense journey will leave you feeling drained but ultimately satisfied. Okay, that last part made it sound like I was reviewing a porno. Emotionally draining is a better description. That's because the viewer is quickly drawn into a bleak, desperate atmosphere as our two protagonists fight to stay alive by any means necessary.

   Don't go into this movie expecting your average Hollywood end-of-the-world story. There are no hordes of CGI monsters. No wild car chases through abandoned streets. And no Will Smith making sarcastic wise-cracks. It's just normal human beings battling starvation and disease. Indeed, the most terrifying moments of the film involve acts of unspeakable depravity committed by regular people. Cannibalism has run rampant. Violence is an everyday occurrence. So much so that the characters never appear to be truly safe. With each abandoned shelter, each deserted highway, there's a sense of danger lurking just around the corner. Director John Hillcoat helps build this atmosphere of despair by filling his palate with tones of gray and black. Billowing clouds of smoke envelope the sun. Trees are plastered with soot and grime. Let's just say it's not exactly spring break in Cancun.

    Yet for all the gloom and doom, the heart of the story is truly uplifting. A story about father and son depending on one another in times of need. On one hand, the father protects and cares for his son. In turn, the son gives his father hope, gives him a reason to go on. Every interaction between the two is believable and enjoyable thanks to inspired performances by Viggo and Kodi. Both actors give raw, authentic portrayals that really bear the hearts and minds of their characters. In the end, the film is both a depressing study of human nature pushed to the limit and a heartwarming testament to the unwavering bond between father and son. Not to mention a film I highly recommend.

Rating: GOOD

14 comments:

EVula said...

Thought there were a couple of slow moments but I agree that overall the acting was phenomenal. Kodi Smit McPhee really shined in this film. Not sure how old he is in real life but that one of the best performances I've seen from a child actor in a long time.

Where The Buffalo Roam said...

Nice review! This film has been sitting on my netflix queue for awhile now, I think I need to bump it up and finally watch it.

H-Rod said...

I love Viggo. Definitely my favorite of favs. This flick doesn't seem to be getting huge applause, and from your review and others the darkness of it doesn't seem to have much redeeming even though it's told well. When I'm feeling depressed I'll finally sit down to get even more depressed with it.

James said...

Viggo's definitely one of my favorites too. His performance in Eastern Promises was just perfect and that film never gained the acclaim I think it deserved.

CMrok93 said...

The book was so freakin grim and dark, that coming into this movie, I was expecting right away to be utterly depressed, and I was, just not that much. It could have gone farther, but I'm still at least glad it stuck to the general mood of the book.

Dan said...

Viggo has really become a top actor. He's made some interesting film choices and has certainly stayed away from mainstream stuff since LOTR.

Ronan said...

This film was a breath of stale air, something different and unpleasant, yet in a wierd way not entirely negative. What I took from this (aside from a severely depressed mood) was that where there's life, there's hope. Good review James.

James said...

Haven't read the book but I could definitely see this movie going much darker. The movie seemed to focus exclusively on the relationship between father and son, not sure if the book delved more into the world (or what's left of it) and all the depraved activities going on.

James said...

This is probably a better summary than my entire three hundred word ramble. Well said.

CastorTroy said...

I thought it missed a little more "heart" to more effectively engage the viewer. However, I did enjoy the movie for its very real and bleak portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world as well as the very good performance from Viggo Mortensen. Good review of the movie.

Honest Abe said...

Seems like this site changes looks every other day :) Not that I'm complaining, the new design looks awesome man.

James said...

Haha yeah it's been a never ending battle to find a template I like. I don't know any programming so I'm at the mercy of the designer. Each one seems to have some problem I can't fix, for example now I can't get Disqus to work so I'm back to the generic Blogger post comments thing. It's really, really pissing me off to say the least.

Nolahn said...

Nice review, and I'm glad you stuck through it -- I could easily see people bailing do to the slow relentlessness of the film.

I've read the book, and I'm not sure which was a bigger surprise for me: That the film is a VERY good adaptation of the book, or that the film exists at all.

Elgart said...

This is a fantastic movie! Great review indeed. I really enjoy reading this.

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