The Road (2009)
I think I came to The Road (2009) with my expectations too high, coming from John Hillcoat in the directors chair and the novel of Cormac McCarthy I thought I was a shooing for a good film. I tried to put the negativity to one side to about this film. Knowing that it didn’t live up to the book, which I have ready to read. I was rightly expecting more after reading the “unfilmable” Blood Meridian which I completed last year. Obviously that was not to be. Even with the director of The Proposition (2005) although i should bear in mind his more recent film Lawless (2012) which failed too hold my attention passed the half hour mark with its rubbish characters who could only annoy me. Maybe The Proposition was a flash in the pan?
I found my self comparing this post-apocalyptic film more with The Book of Eli (2010) even with its religious overtones had more of a badass bite to it. You had a lone man with a purpose, a mission able to really defend himself. The look of the film was pretty much the same, except for the added impending doom of the earth crumbling around us in The Road. I know it’s not really fair to compare them, when the latter focuses on a father and son who are making their way south in hopes of find better resources to survive the nuclear winter that they are trying to survive. Visually they could be two films of the same world that never really meet.
I think what gets me the most is those scenes that are straight off the pages of the book (going by Blood Meridan) which are very much watered down. When we are faced with violence or terror, we only get glimpses of it. Even with the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a little to wet behind the ears to still be alive when we find him to had survived that long. Probably adapted for the screen to be more relatable to the audience who are coming to see a 15 rated film in the U.K. Only kept alive by his dad/papa (Viggo Mortensen) who scan actually be admired for keeping himself and his son alive for so long. Able to defend himself, and get out of these horrific situations. Not that you’d know it from what we get on-screen, it might as well be a 12A at times.
That’s my real gripe with this film, those moments of terror are watered down and I don’t know why. We get only glimpses of cannibals and gangs who attack the weak, this is not what I expect from a McCarthty adaptation. It does actually have a heart still, that core relationship between the father and son who really have been through a lot, taking nothing for granted, living on the a knife edge, ready to end it all at a moments notice. And thats what’s saves this film, two figures trying to survive, making decisions that are ethically shady, which makes for awkward viewing. More so near the end with a naked Black man which becomes more questionable with the passing of time.
I really think I did the wrong thing here and should have read the book first, but the film was on so I thought give it a go. I’m kicking myself now, waiting to get around to reading the book which inspired the film that had the potential to be really dark if only they did edit/cut out all the best bits to become a horror before it really scares you. When we think of the end of the world, the end of civilisation, when society breaks down, its supposed to be horrific, unthinkable. You could say it’s already happening in Paris, Jordan and Japan when people are killed brutally. We don’t even get close to that in The Road, its as if they chickened out of the apocalypse.