The Road (2009)

[The first movie of the /slash Filmfestival.*]

The Road is John Hillcoat‘s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s book (which I’ve reviewed here). It stars Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce.

A man (Viggo Mortensen) and a boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) make their way through a post-apocalyptic landscape. All the plants and animals have died, it’s cold and dirty and they are hungry and all alone. But a promise the man made to his wife (Charlize Theron) keeps them going, trying to reach the coast.

The Road is a good movie with some faults. It lacks the claustrophobic intensity of the original but replaces them with great cinematography and generally good performances.

Viggo Mortensen does a great job. His performance is definitely Oscar-worthy (he’ll probably have to fight with Leonardo DiCaprio and Colin Firth to get it, though) and it’s beautiful to watch, especially when it comes to his interaction with Kodi Smit-McPhee. It’s no wonder then, that Kodi Smit-McPhee himself remains pretty colorless and is easily overlooked.

Robert Duvall is great as well. Charlize Theron has to struggle with the script that expanded her role without expanding on the character. And Guy Pearce has the misfortune of wearing dentals that would have better fitted a Sunday Morning Disney Movie and seems completely out of place.

Where the book was a lyrical, claustrophobic exercise in despair (for once a book that deserves the “devastating” blurb), the movie goes for more sweeping gestures, building a bleak, rotting landscape and capturing it perfectly [another Oscar for Cinematography?]. But unfortunately, this also means that it seems to lack content.

Generally speaking, the movie achieves a more joyful** atmosphere than the book. Which doesn’t mean that you don’t want to slit your wrists after seeing the film, only that maybe you want to do it with a faint smile on your lips.

The soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is pretty good, albeit unconventional. But it fits the film.

Summarising, a good film with excellent parts, though the book is better.


*You should totally watch the awesome festival trailer. It’s French/German but if you just think “pretentious nonsense” everytime they talk French, you’ll be fine.

**Did I seriously manage to put the word “joyful” in a review of The Road?

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