Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Road

For everyone on Twitter, I promised a review of The Road. I could quite easily do it in six words: Best movie I've seen all year....however I'll get much more in depth.

I love films that make you think. And I love film, literature, etc, that take place in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian society. The Road is post-apocalyptic, and really made me think, because even a day later I'm still mulling it over in my head. It's about two unnamed characters, the man (played by the amazing Viggo Mortensen), and the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), travelling across the country to reach "the coast", because the man figures they won't survive another winter where they originally lived. This is roughly ten years after an unnamed event happened, that killed off most humans, animals and plants, so food is very scarce. On their journey, they must try to avoid the "bad guys". There are no more laws, and it's essentially every man for himself.

It's a shocking film, and often very tragic. How do you retain what keeps you human when there are so few humans left? How far do you go to keep yourself and your family alive? When is life still worth living? These questions are asked within the film, and I found myself thinking at length about them as well. Flashbacks to the boy's mother, and the Man's wife (Charlize Theron) help bring these questions to the forefront of the movie.

For the majority of the film, Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are the only characters on screen. They work off of each other very well. What I loved most about the film is how the characters, and your perception of them changed within the two hour time span. They were very convincing as Father and son. The man was so devoted to his son that he would do absolutely anything for him. I admired that dynamic, and was very moved by it. But at the same time, it is something that is very hard for me to imagine. I can't imagine having nothing in the world, but a son or a father. But I think being in such a situation, where you depend on each other so fully would make you extraordinarily close. The Road is being described by many as the "feel bad movie of the year", and I gotta say I agree with that statement. Expect to feel bad, to feel horrified, and to think when you watch it. It's very difficult to watch. I actually find it amusing that the release date is when it is, because this weekend was Thanksgiving in the States. Why would they release such a bleak film Thanksgiving weekend? Surely they could have released it next week. That being said, I hope word of mouth spreads and a lot of people see it. Mortensen definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for his role in the film, and I also think it should be a contender for Best Picture. I was also very impressed with Smit-McPhee. He was quite young when this film was made (and is still quite young). I can't imagine making such an emotionally heavy movie right now, as an adult, let alone when I was 11 years old! They found themselves a gem when he was cast.

Another thing that really impressed me was the imagery. There is very little colour in the movie, most things are shades of grey, or other muted colours. They did a very good job creating a bleak and destroyed world. Everything, from what they wear, to the trees and buildings look the way one would imagine they'd look ten years after a world-ending event. Numerous close-ups are used to show how skinny and dirty the man and the boy are. I read somewhere that some of it was CGI edited to make the colours more muted and bleak, but a lot of it was simply excellent choice in filming locations. Kudos to the film makers.

I wish I'd had time to read the book, by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote No Country for Old Men, which was adapted into film. I've never read any of his books, but I think I'd start with The Road, because as much as I loved No Country, I liked The Road quite a bit better. Maybe over the summer I'll have more time to read it. I do recall reading the back of the book a few years ago, and thinking it sounded pretty interesting, but for whatever reason I didn't pick it up. I wish I had.

That being said, make sure you have something fun planned after you see the film. Had I just been going home afterwards I probably would have been a little depressed all night. It's emotionally exhausting.

Here's a link to the trailer.


  1. Good review! A good, depressing movie (this one) makes me happier than a bad, happy one (Transformers) any day!

    By the way, remember that joke I made today about the chicken fingers running out after you got yours: they ran out! I wish I was kidding...

  2. Indeed! I sometimes feel bad because it seems all I recommend are the super tragic, depressing films, but they're always much better than the "leave your brain at the door" type movies. I do see those ones on occasion, but they're so forgettable that I don't want to take the time to write a review about them. But on the rare occasions I see a movie that is so bad it warrants the time spent on a negative review, I'll definitely be spending that time.

    And uh...I'll get my drop out papers to you tomorrow. Don't want F's on my transcript and all...sorry 'bout eating all the chicken fingers.

  3. That's OK. But the next time you or any of your fellow students see me, make sure you give me the (chicken) finger. Har, har!

  4. Oh man, that was awful (but I still laughed).