12 January 2010

The Road.

On Saturday just gone, I watched the recently released The Road, directed by John Hillcoat based on the popular 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy, which I admittedly haven't read myself.
Note: this may contain certain spoilers. I got out fairly early to a local art house cinema, it was over half full, more so than the last few times I'd been there. I guess this was going to be the fairly 'big' film I thought it would be.
Going to the cinny I like to get in early, get a good seat usually at the back, and hey, even watch the 'coming soons' as I always have done. These little things are important for my viewing pleasure.
Without sounding like a good old misery guts, a real bug bear of mine is when someone comes in dead late, as many people kept on doing, so you can imagine my secret inner animosity bubbling right over when a couple came in right as it was getting started and the lady was wearing the biggest, stupidest pointy fucking hat I have ever seen. Yeah, you guessed it, they only went and sat directly in front of me despite being plenty of other seats littered around. For a moment, I thought I was the unfortunate and unlikely participant on some secret Trigger Happy TV style show her hat was that ridiculous.
Anyway, enough of that. Over to the film. I hadn't actually heard too much about this one until my copy of Little White Lies mag slipped through the letter box, with a great in depth write up and review in the magazine of which it was the featured film - including the cover. I was now looking forward to this one. The film follows father Viggo Mortensen and son Kodi Smit-McPhee in a post apocalyptic world ravaged by earthquakes, storms and blazing fires.

A true wasteland, the unnamed Father and Son struggle from day to day to survive the unspecified devastation which has ravaged the world as we know it, together they have strived for a number of years to find shelter and stave off starvation.
Their quest is simple to head towards the coast on a hunt for civilisation, food, water and a search for any remaining decent people to bring hope. Keeping their fire inside burning throughout is the only thing which keeps them sane on their journey. 'Papa' carries a pistol with just two bullets left, with the clear and obvious intention they would not hesitate to put those last two pieces of lead into their own brains, there's a harrowing scene where he even shows his child what to do with the gun and where to point it. Showing just how bleak and terrifying this world has become.
Despite his ill health and awareness of his impending doom in this catastrophic world, the father still tries to instill values and teach the way of the world into his naive young son whom he must protect as he has to grow up fast.
The film plays out like a roller coaster of events, at times incredibly grim and desperate as the lack of life is visible for all to see, there's a suggestive dream sequence which shows the mans wife played by Charlize Theron fighting off any persuasion not to walk off into the night and her own fate, having lost all hope having brought a child into this God forsaken world.
This is at times genuinely frightening as renegades and cannibals in search of prey roam about at the least likely of times. Finding old disused cars and houses unearth the odd treat and treasure, but by and large they unearth even more threats, there's a chilling scene where they explore what seems to be an abandoned country house only to unearth a horrendous situation which they do incredibly well to dodge. Even then, there's one or two moments of humour and joy, unearthing a secret bunker full of food and drink must have been like a temporary paradise but there's always the ongoing, overhanging threat of intrusion from the unknown which lingers on like the stink of a freshly skinned cadaver.
The film features two or three cameos, one from a pretty unrecognisable Robert Duvall as the old man on his own endeavour of emptiness, and Michael K Williams (Omar from The Wire) as a night stalking thief who is taught a valuable lesson.
A buck toothed Guy Pearce also features as hopefully, one of the good guys.
The father who has shown signs of illness throughout, is shot by an arrow as they reach the coast.
His demise is not far off and it's now up to his son to try and go it alone, taking the gun and it's two bullets, he is stopped and befriended by a family, is this the good people they've been hoping to discover, it is probably the only happy ending there could possibly be in this forgotten wasteland.

As far as films about the end of the world go, they're never going to be a joyous affair, there's plenty of crap films depicting the end of time, or nearing the end of time albeit being saved in the dying moments by someone like Will Smith and full of CGI. This though, I'd imagine is as close as can be, as you'd expect it's visually bleak, yet somehow stunning, the cinematography doesn't let this down, nor do the lead roles. Collectively this was spot on, a terrifying yet enjoyable experience.
A very good film, and although it's only January one of the best of the year I'd say. 4/5.


  1. Watching this tonight, whetted my appetite nicely.

  2. Sincerest apologies, I've amended it now.