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The Road

A 2009 film film based on the book of the same name.

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And the road leads to nowhere.

  • Jun 23, 2011
*** out of ****

"The Road" begins a bleak and depressing vision, and stays that way up until the end. That is how Cormac McCarthy's novel was written; that is how the film adaptation is made. There was no other way to make the film. If it could not be both visually and emotionally bleak, then it just wouldn't have been "The Road". In my heart, I know that this is the best they could do when it comes to an adaptation of McCarthy's story, which I treasure oh-so-much. "The Road" was one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure, or non-pleasure, to read. It was so good, that I wanted to burn my copy; nobody else should be asked to read such a thoroughly depressing work of art. Yes, art does not need to be depressing. But it can be. And it can also be beautiful through such apathy.

Director John Hillcoat creates a film that re-creates the imagery of "The Road", as a novel, quite well. Hillcoat's apocalyptic wasteland is a believable one; devoid of hope, devoid of humanity, and devoid of life. That is, unless you count the boy and his loving father. "The Road" is the story of two characters, who are unnamed because names are unimportant, as is the cause to the downfall of planet Earth. We know these characters as only The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and The Man (Viggo Mortensen).

Together, the father and his son travel a broken world. The Man narrates most of the story, or whenever he can. He doesn't know what happened. Neither does the boy, because whatever cataclysm befell Earth happened a couple days before the birth of the child. The Woman (Charlize Theron), or the mother of the boy and the husband of the man, did not want the baby to be born, but she went through with it. After a few years, it is revealed that she packed her light bags, and left.

The Man and The Boy just want to live as long as they can. The Man does not believe that the world will ever magically revive itself, but his love for the Boy compels him to keep "carrying the fire", as he would put it. There are dangers in this apocalyptic setting, one of them being: other humans, the ones devoid of reason or rationalism. The Man assumes that every other human alive has converted to cannibalism, because this seems to be a good choice when no other food can really be found.

On their journey, the Boy and the Man meet many faces; some bad, some good, some important to the story's meaning and moral. The ending, which remains the same for the film, was hearthbreaking and made me cry when it was written on paper, but in film, it lacks the same resonance for me on an emotional level.

Cormac McCarthy told his story best. Hillcoat's screen-writer, Joe Penhall, does not intend to re-tell the story, for he knows that he cannot tell it like a genius. Nobody can. "The Road" is an extraordinary book whose story can only be claimed by one person, and one person only.

"The Road" is not a great film; but it is all I could have wanted out of an adaptation of "The Road". It was either a film as well-made, faithful, and good as this one, or it was something much worse. I'd rather have Hillcoat's dedication than someone else's self-indulgence. I admire "The Road", as a film, because it is superbly directed, visually faithful to the images in the novel, and it is powerfully acted. Viggo Mortensen is flawlessly case as The Man; sporting the emotions and true feelings of a father figure in the apocalypse. Kodi Smit-McPhee, as The Boy, is good in his role because he is innocent, vulnerable, and loves his papa. "The Road" is not a film that many movie-watchers will want to see once, or even twice. It is slow, depressing, and intentionally bland. It is not pleasant, it is not fun, but in its own way, it is riveting enough to be entertaining. It is bold, sometimes beautiful, and I was very pleased. And its story inhabits a world where love comes pretty darn close to conquering all.

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More The Road (movie) reviews
review by . October 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A post-apocalyptic suspense film that loses its steam a third of the way through. From the outset, it will have you on your seat, heart-thumping, anxious to know what danger lies around the next bend for our all-too-human father and son duo.      The gritty style and viewing angles, accompanied with the impeccably apt score immerses the viewer into this desolate world, rife with murderers and cannibals, as well as the atypical enemy: falling dead trees. A Book of Eli similarity …
review by . May 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland...
   “THE ROAD” is a film about a post-apocalyptic world that is based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. Directed by John Hillcoat with a screenplay written by John Penhall portrays the journey of a father and a son as they trudge this barren wasteland, looking for a destination and keeping a flicker of hope. Now I haven’t read the book so I cannot judge this film as to well it compares to its source material, but as always, I can judge a film as to well …
Quick Tip by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
As far as post-apocalyptic stories go, it's hard to introduce anything new or compelling at this point, since almost everything's been done before. However, this film manages to be very compelling and memorable. The film doesn't function as a science fiction film, but rather as an emotionally complex father and son survival story.      The Road takes place in a future where reality almost seems to be unraveling. Trees are falling, animals are dying out, cities are …
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I do not have a problem separating a movie derived from another source—typically a book. I’ve been a book collector and heavy reader all my life; similarly, I am a heavy user of movies. So, fully understanding they are different media I can usually value each outside of the other. Of course I make comparisons—it’s impossible not to do so. I loved the book and film Fight Club but the movie was significantly more powerful and a bit funnier. John Huston’s The Dead mimicked …
review by . December 14, 2009
The Fire Inside Still Burns
From what I've seen so far, The Road, has had a limited release in the United States. Apparently, only the bigger cities are fortunate enough to have this one make the big screens. Consequently, the last time I checked, the movie was at a mere $1.5 million in box office sales. Too bad. It's an excellent movie. And as far as the post-apocalyptic genre goes, it puts most of its predecessors to shame.      John Hillcoat, the director, proves that minimal is the way to go. The …
review by . July 04, 2010
With Vigo Mortensen, I thought the movie adaptation of the book would be better.  After all here is the action star of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I was wrong.  As boring as the book was, the movie is a lot more boring.        After some sort of world holocaust a father and his son wander around whatever is left just trying to survive while trying to avoid cannibalistic "bad people." Occasionally the father remembers his dead wife (she …
Quick Tip by . August 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm no expert on post-apocalyptic movies, but this suffered the same fate as Book of Eli for me... strong start and then downhill halfway through. By definition, where can a movie of this nature really go? The ending was flat out pathetic, and the boy got really annoying after a while. Strong performance by Viggo Mortensen though and it did manage some tense moments to hold my interest. Curious about the book though, since as a rule I find most books to be much stronger than their film adaptations. …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It was too bad that the movie was not nearly as good as the book despite being as true to it as it was. The quality of the cgi may have had a lot to do with that, they were some what distracting.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the best book to movie adaptions I have seen. It seems depressing but is a tale of love between a father and son, a never ending unbreakable love. Very uplifting if you look at how there is still love when all else fails.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
For those who care, Viggo gets naked but still can't save this movie. Shame that Charlize is only in this for about 15 seconds.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


The Road is a 2009 film directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall. Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by American author Cormac McCarthy, the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and his son in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Filming took place in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Oregon. The film received a limited release in North American cinemas from November 25, 2009 and is scheduled to be released in UK cinemas on January 4, 2010.
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Genre: Drama
Release Date: December 2, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes
Studio: Dimension Films, Sony Pictures
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