I'm not exactly sure what motivated me to want to see this movie. Perhaps it was because the author of the book, of which this movie was adapted from, also wrote "No Country For Old Men", which was also adapted into a feature film. Perhaps it was because Viggo Mortensen was starring in it. Perhaps it was just plain old curiosity. Now that I think about it again, I'm sure it was a mixture of all of those things including a few others. I can easily say that "The Road" is unlike any other movie that I've seen before. It has certainly left me in a different frame of mind than any other movie has.
After an unspecified cataclysm, the world as we knew it is all but dead. There are no more animals, the sky is permanently covered in thick, dark clouds, and civilization has collapsed, becoming roving bands of cannibalistic thieves. It is in this ruined world that a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive. They have next to nothing; the dirty clothes on their backs, a rusting shopping cart with scavenged food and other supplies, and a pistol with only two bullets remaining. In search of a safer place to survive, the pair travels towards the coast enduring whatever may come their way.
Let me start off by saying that this is, by far, the most realistic post-apocalyptic movie I've seen yet. Unlike some other iterations in this genre, there are no heroic people with "holier-than-thou" intentions, machine gun-wielding men with unlimited ammunition, scantily clad women whoring themselves about, or a surviving haven of people somewhere in the world. The world in "The Road" is bleak. Realistically, believably bleak. There are many other words that would be used, but bleak stands out above the rest. The color palette never strays from dull, muted tones that had every chance to be overbearing and monotonous but, thankfully, wasn't.
Unfortunately at the time of seeing this movie, I have not yet read the award-winning novelization by Cormac McCarthy so I don't have the material to call upon and compare. But after seeing the film adaptation, I am all the more interested in reading it. From what I've read however, barring a handful of omissions in the adaptation process, "The Road" has been relatively well received. The one thing that is still surprising is how Viggo Mortensen received next to no attention for the performance that he gave in this movie.
Being the motivating reason why I wanted to see this movie, Viggo does not disappoint. There wasn't a second where I couldn't feel his urgency and drive to protect his son from the surviving threats in that world. The emotion he gave was relatable, believable, especially faced with all of the challenges and hardships, and above all moving. During the movie's climax, if you could call it that, what ended up happening with the Man was saddening but not unexpected. "The Road" is a movie where there is very little hope. The few times where there actually was a glimmer of hope, there was something or someone just around the corner to keep things in check.
I haven't heard very much in regards to Kodi Smit-McPhee, the only other movie I think he may have been in was "Let Me In", so there wasn't very much for me to compare his performance in "The Road" against. The only real complaint that I would have with his character is his level of toughness. Having been born in that world, one would think that he would be able to stand up to things a bit better than he did. But then again, the character of the Boy is just that... a young boy. More than once the Boy was, aptly put, the fire that had to be preserved. Whenever a hard choice would have to be made, instead of devolving further the Boy helped the Man keep his humanity. Kodi did a solidly good job in his performance.
As for everyone else and their respective performances, the only one really worth mentioning is that of Charlize Theron. Even though she wasn't in the movie for very long, her character did the job is supposed to: getting the Man and Boy to where they needed to be to carry on. As brief as it was, Charlize's performance was wholly believable. The choices and actions that that character made could be made by anyone else in a similar situation.
The only other thing worth highlighting is the choice of scenery and or shooting locations. Despite the bleakness, or maybe because of it, the wide, panoramic shots were equally impressive and impactful. A once-beautiful forest turned into a graveyard where the trees take the place of headstones or the downtown area of a large city submerged in water, with two large tanker-like ships were two such scenes. One of the best choices made for this film was to actually travel to those locations and shoot there instead of simply resorting to easily recognizable CGI.
While I wouldn't recommend seeing this if you're in a particularly depressed mood, I would recommend "The Road" to anyone who has read and or seen "No Country For Old Men" or anyone who is a Cormac McCarthy fan.
This was a review by tMG, thank you for reading.