Thursday, November 26, 2009

Road Safety Is Key For Survival

The Full List of Big Thoughts From A Small Mind's 2009 Reviews

This review was originally posted in my 2009 Toronto Film Festival Recap. The review has been re-posted as the film will finally be released in select cinemas this week

The Road

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, John Hillcoat’s The Road is bleak look at a world on the brink. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive by any means necessary. As duo travel aimlessly day to day, they encounter various individuals (Robert Duvall, Michael K. Williams, etc) that will ultimately blur the lines between good and evil even further.

As weird as it may sound, I always find stories about the decay of society fascinating. The Road is a very bleak film that reminded me of Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness in many ways, though The Road is not nearly as graphic and the overall execution of is far better. The interesting thing about this film is that it does not care what caused the world to get to the point that it is at. The real focus is on the theme of family; and the lengths that people will go through to protect the ones they love.

There is also an underlying question of whether childhood innocence can exist in such a horrific world? There are times in the film where Smit-McPhee’s character comes off a little too naïve for my liking. Especially if you take into account everything that he has experienced up to this point. Having not read the source material I cannot say whether the character was originally written this way or if it was more a result of Hillcoat’s direction.

The real strength of the film is found in the casting. Viggo Mortensen is very good in the lead role; he has the right mixture of vulnerability and jadedness needed for the role. I also really liked the supporting performances of Duvall and Williams. Though I wish Molly Parker and Guy Pearce were given more to do. I understand their character’s roles are minor but, with actors of their talent, it would have been great to see them play some of the darker roles in the film. While it did not blow me away like other post-apocalyptic films have, say Children of Men for example, The Road did hold my interest the throughout.

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