John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’ (2009)

Naturally, I was flipping through Netflix under the “Thrillers” to see if there was anything new that I could watch when I was pleasantly surprised to see The Road show up. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I read the book a few years ago, and possibly because I found out Viggo Mortensen  starred in it (I have a thing for Aragorn).  Instantly, I press play and cuddle up in some blankets.
Not my best idea.
I am sad to say that I fell asleep for approximately 30 minutes worth of the movie. BUT, let me defend the film a little here-it’s a Monday and I’ve been trying to get over a migraine hangover.
With that in mind, let me dive into my first film review.

Man and Boy face the world's destruction

The film opens with sequences bursting with life and nature. Bright, sunny days with beautiful trees and flowers- it felt nostalgic. Then, a sudden transition into the post-apocalyptic world: lifeless and grey. Throughout, the film does a wonderful job contrasting the pre-apocalypse/post-apocalypse, and instead of focusing on the fact that the world was coming to an end, the focus was on how Man and Boy survived in the post-apocalyptic world. This storyline stayed true to what I remember from the book, which I appreciate. This is what makes The Road different from other apocalypse movies-it focuses on survival in a helpless situation. It’s not necessarily ‘intense’, which is what you would expect- instead, it’s just so heartbreaking.
Man (Mortensen) and Boy (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) had character developments that were endearing and powerful in the film. The relationship between father and son showed elements that forced me to laugh, smile, furrow my eyebrows, and shed many tears. Even with the little scenes that Woman (Charlize Theron) had, I was impressed by how much storyline I had gotten out from them, and from those scenes the relationship between Man and Boy became even more complex and genuine.
No, we didn’t get to see cannibals in action. We didn’t get to see what catastrophic event made the ‘bright light’ end nature as we know it. The Road is a film that centers around the journey that a father and his son struggle through in order to survive in the dying world. It’s about a father teaching his son how to grow up to be a man in his post-apocalypse generation. This film is depressing, so I’d say it’s a movie for a cloudy day, but it sure does leave an impression.

“I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.” The Road (2009)

Pros:

  • The cast (Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce)
  • Character development/chemistry between main characters
  • Visually compelling (heartbreaking scenes of desolation, contrast to pre-apocalypse)
  • Follows the book well
  • The end (boohoo’s)

Cons:

  • Slow at times
  • Not good when you’re having a cheery day
  • Some parts made me say, “Really??” (Why would he leave that amazing hatch?)

Overall rating: 6.5/10

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4 thoughts on “John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’ (2009)

  1. For somebody who has read the book, I have to say, it’s a pretty suitable adaptation. Not perfect, but definitely worth your time if you think the book may be a bit “too much” for you. Good review.

  2. I’ve always thought it was interesting that this is regarded as his “most uplifting story.” I think what the movie does very well is capture the essence of the story. It captures that it’s a love story between a father and a son.

    When he was asked by Oprah whether this was a love story, he turned red, smiled, and slouched down in his chair. That’s one of the few interviews he’s done.

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