The Road is directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition) and written by Joe Penhall (Enduring Love). Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by American author Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men), the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
How do you sell such a sombre piece to the film loving public? I'm not sure I personally can, such is the whirly like emotions dominating my thoughts. OK, it's a grim and bleak film, of that there's no doubt. Director Hillcoat is not out to make a thrilling end of the world actioner. Staying faithful to McCarthy's novel, this is now a world where animal & plant life is practically extinct, where this particular part of America is lawless and populated by cannibal types. Humanity has long since left the arena. How we arrived at such desolation is not clear; intentionally so. We are now just witnessing the after effects of something world changing, the fall out involving us as we hit the road with man & boy.
Hillcoat and his cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe have painted a clinically dead world from which to tell the story. Scorched soil is home to threadbare trees, the skyline punctured by the wreckage of man's progress passed, storms come and go as if to taunt the characters. It's a living hell that begs the question on why would anyone want to survive in it? So here's the thing that finally hit me like a sledgehammer some five days after watching the film, it's not just the bleakness of the apocalypse that gnaws away at you, it's also the expertly portrayed study of parenting. So emotively played by Mortensen, with Smit-McPhee essaying incredible vulnerability, it sinks the heart the longer the movie goes on. All of which is leading up to the ending, where we get something absorbing, revealing and utterly smart.
Tough viewing for sure, but compelling and thought provoking throughout. 8/10