Friday, November 27, 2009
The Road (2009) Drama
The Road (2009) - SPOILER ALERT! THIS MAY HAVE INFORMATION YOU MAY NOT WANT TO KNOW>>>> Joe Penhall very loyally adapted the Cormac McCarthy novel about a father and son travelling south through post apocalyptic America. Directed by John Hillcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Man and Boy. Hillcoat directed the 2005 brutal but fine film "The Proposition" and does a fine job here where it is a challenging story with limited character interactions. In the story we are ten or so years past some catastrophe that has killed all plants and thus all animals on the planet earth. Man is vanishing as well, scavenging for missed cans of food, bodies of bugs and at times other humans. The Man and the Boy head south to escape the ever colder winters of the north. A good deal of what they were about in the book we also see here, a shopping cart of what goods they have, is pushed along abandon roads every closer to there first destination the coast. The deal with the anxiety of roving bands of cannibals and the threat every other desperate soul presents them on the road. This is far from an uplifting story but is is an honest one. When the shit really hits the fan what kind of a human being will you be. Will you be the good guy, resist the hunger and starve before preying on your fellow man; Or will you take the survival of the fittest route? The Man is trying to prepare the Boy to be one of the good people. His story arc is about teaching the Boy that someone has to carry the torch of humanity even when things look bleakest. Viggo does an excellent job in this film, capturing the struggle between wanting to prepare the Boy as he knows he is dying. But also struggling with the desire to stop being so human in these the hardest of times trying to do what was right but not always being correct in his actions. The Boy has his own arc, the reminder to the Man that he is getting close to not being one of the good people. That kindness is not rented but paid for with self sacrifice. He during the story becomes more independent and ready for his future challenges. He is the witness for the Man's fallibility, starting as a cared for child and progressing to a capable survivor. During the trip we see the eating of humans by humans the keeping of people as food stuffs. In this world every encounter with another person can be dangerous, each house you want to search could hold deadly danger. It is because there is love that the Man can bring the Boy through this world and hopefully help him be the next wave of humanity. They did some things I really liked with this story. They increased through flashbacks the story of the Man's wife played by Charlize Theron as she decides instead of surviving in the world to kill herself. The passages in the book were fleeting but here she is a full character exploring the idea that not everyone will fight for survival. He is really haunted by her memory and struggles to let go. I actually like that they changed a couple smaller but significant things. In the book the Man is sick from the beginning of the story and I think you really know what will become of him early on. In the film the writer reveals the sickness more slowly, I think adding to the tragedy of it. Also in the book later on there is the pregnant lady with two guys, who eat the newborn baby. Here in the film that scene is not present. This seems the way to go to me. Besides the obvious grossness of it, it is later in the book and we have at this point in the movie already visited cannibalism. We get the idea of what is happening and it does not need more verification. I loved the landscapes they found for filming, destroyed houses of a post Katrina New Orleans, to the barren wastes of Mount Saint Helen and the Rust belt in Pennsylvania the film captures the poverty of the end of the world that McCarthy is so good at writing about. The neding is just like the book and I was glad for that. This is a tough story and not everyone will enjoy it, but I have to say I did.