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The Road

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

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Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland...

  • May 27, 2010

“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 it was made and just how entertaining it was; or maybe in this case, just how compelling and haunting.
A father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smith-McPhee) are struggling to survive a number of years in this earth where it seemed to have died with a whimper. Nothing will grow, the skies remain overcast and lightning is always in the distance, earthquakes have also become a common thing in this barren world. There is no explanation as to why this happened, only that it did. We see “the man” in a series of flashbacks in happier times as well as the dark days that followed when he tried to convince his wife (Charlize Theron) to hang on to hope after their child was born. Now, that child is close to becoming a teen, and the father must teach his son how to survive this dangerous, barren world as he also begins to learn from his own son about morality and hope…

            Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in "The Road."

            Kodi Smit-McPhee and Viggo Mortensen in "The Road."
The film sets it sights on the journey being shared by this father and son. We see their relationship as the father teaches the son the ways of this new world, including the rules of morality that now applies to this barren, dead world. Through their eyes, the viewer is taken to this dead earth where desperation and cruelty run rampant; seems like there is a good number of people who have stooped to cannibalism to survive. In this world, distrust and isolation seemed to be the most logical move, although the father and the son sometimes encounter people much like them. For the most part the film is a stop and go, and was intentional filmed to have that ‘episodic’ feel to it; as the two try to survive this world while encountering cannibals and those being held captive by cannibals. The father carries a revolver with his last two remaining bullets in case they ever need to commit suicide.  Times are desperate indeed and it is tough to find a semblance of hope, but even the most bleakest, desperate times can still have some ‘good times’ as they do make the most of it, for as long as they possibly can.
The film is violent but not as brutal as the other apocalyptic films we’ve seen in the past; most of the violence is hinted at that gives an effect of powerful suggestive impact. There is some gore but not that much that may turn off the occasional viewer, and I do see it necessary to express the director’s vision. The film’s characterization happen mostly in the form of flashbacks, as they prove to be a sign of happier times. There is also some foreshadowing as we see the father coughing a lot, and intangible philosophical things such as carrying a fire (as in good guys) as a sign of enduring hope. There isn’t really an explanation as to why the two head South (except maybe to avoid another cold winter) and I do think it was just another chore for them to find a feeling of direction in this desperation times.

                Charlize Theron in "The Road."
               A scene from "The Road."
The filmmakers do need to be commended in choosing the right actor for the role. Viggo Mortensen carries the film on his shoulders and these shoulders are strong and steady. Much of the film depends on Mortensen’s expressions of raw emotion and he does do very well even in the scenes where he doesn’t even say anything. His one link to humanity (or the feeling of being human) is only through his son, which I can believe that he tried his best to maintain his innocence; although frankly, I found the boy’s continuous whining and saying “papa…papa” to be annoying after awhile. For a boy who has supposedly seen a lot, I would have expected him to be tougher; he is not a boy but a teen, and I found this really hard to buy into that a boy who grew up in this world would be a little too ‘sappy’ for my tastes. (I guess it is because I went through a lot as a kid, and I toughened up to do what I needed to do)

                A scene from "The Road."

                Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in "The Road."
The cinematography and designs do give the film quite an authentic feel to it, and I was real happy with the look and mood of the film. I really did feel like I was in a dark, barren earth that had a very depressing tone to it. Complemented by the musical score, I do feel that this world is ending slowly and with a whimper. You see the dirt and the trees, the buildings slowly decomposing, the film did what it was meant to do.
I guess I did like ‘THE ROAD’ despite the fact that there were some scenes that were a little too stretched out and the slow scenes did hamper it a bit. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more order imposed in all the chaos and vice versa. I thought it could’ve taken its journey where perils escalated the longer the journey went on, then the film would’ve made a stronger impact on its narrative. I guess the film is about choices, and the more choices they had to make, the more they seemed to question their remaining humanity. It is hard for me to figure out what is lacking in “The Road” but I guess this is why it is unnerving and a little evocative; now that element of the film I did like very much…
Highly Recommended! [4- Stars]

HYPE LEVEL: The film received a limited screening but with a film with Viggo Mortensen in the lead, it would generate a fair amount of 'HYPE'; that combined with the director's resume gives this film some buzz.



Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland... Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland... Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland... Parental Panic and Fear in This Barren, Dead Wasteland...

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May 28, 2010
Oh, I suck! I didn't even notice you'd posted this. LOL! And you didn't even point it out. Very decent of you.
Great review. I'm not a big fan of Westerns as a genre, but the idea of a post-apocalyptic western seems groovy. Plus, the cast is great.
May 30, 2010
western? uh-uh. This is a father-son drama, my friend and the look and feel of it may be the most realistic post-apocalyptic film to date. Viggo ruled this one.
May 30, 2010
Yeah, but it has a western motif. The entire father-son story comes from westerns, unless you want to look all the way back to ancient myths that is. Plus, the book was written by Cormac McCarthy who writes westerns and such.
December 02, 2010
Well, I really liked it. As far as post-apocalyptic road movies go, they're all quite similar, but I liked the fact that this film really focused on the bond between the man and his son. Somehow, it was totally predictable and yet still really engaging. Strong performances too.
May 28, 2010
You brushed on something in your review that I left out of mine. There are scenes where the visuals aspects tell the story instead of dialogue. I agree that Vigo was exceptionally well cast in this role, lending it credibility.
May 28, 2010
Yup, Viggo owned this movie and did you see the scene when he was almost showing almost skin and bones? absolutely riveting.
May 28, 2010
Amazing review!! I have yet to see this movie or read the Pulitzer prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. Man I want to see it so badly.
May 28, 2010
Thanks for the read.
May 27, 2010
Man I want to see this so bad and your review only makes me want to see it more, great review.
May 28, 2010
watch it, dude watch it!
More The Road (movie) reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** 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" …
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 …
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.
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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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