Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Road

The Road is the latest film adaptation of a heralded Cormac McCarthy novel. All the Pretty Horses in 2000 received mixed reviews at best, and No Country for Old Men is one of the great films of the decade. Unfortunately, The Road's reception will be much closer to the former. When I first heard about this adaptation I was very interested because I greatly admired director John Hillcoat’s directorial debut The Proposition.

The only thing The Road has in common with The Proposition is a fine score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis although even that is superior in The Proposition and in The Assassination of Jesse James for that matter. In those two films, the score is almost like another character in the story due to the impact it has on how we are viewing the film. In The Road it just was improperly used.

I guess it isn’t fair to compare this film to No Country for Old Men or The Proposition. The fact of the matter is, we all go into films with certain expectations based on history, and the viewing experience can either disappoint, meet expectations or exceed them. The Road is just plain disappointing.

We follow a man and his son on a journey through a post-apocalyptic land trying to head south, where it's warmer, and where presumably other people will be living together. The setting is extremely bleak and full of despair. The sky is always grey and almost everything they come across has been destroyed or ravaged. The road they follow is full of people doing whatever it takes to survive whether it be theft, murder or cannibalism. Obviously a tired man and his young son would make for a great target in this scenario.

The key theme of this story is obviously the bond between father and son as McCarthy has proclaimed many times the son in the book is based on his own son in reality. I can’t pinpoint why but I just could not get attached to this relationship in the story. There are a number of father/son films that I am quite fond of, including Road To Perdition, Finding Nemo and The Pursuit of Happyness. The father/son theme at its best can make for some of the most rewarding films. In The Road it just seems like two people trying to make due.

The acting is very good and that is to be expected from the group of Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall. Kodi Smit-McPhee shows great promise as the kid. Guy Pearce has either a small role or a cameo depending on how you look at it and I hope he is not getting used to such a routine between this and The Hurt Locker. It’s just odd to see someone of his caliber just pop up in a movie for five minutes.

I look at IMDB and I see the next two McCarthy adaptations will be directed by Todd Field (In The Bedroom) and Andrew Dominik (Assasssination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). It’s sufficient to say that I will have high expectations for both projects.

2 1/2 / 5 stars

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