I gotta get it out of the way that I am a huge, huge fan of this book. And thats saying a lot, because reading it required me to turn a blind eye to that massive red flag that is the Oprahs Book Club selection sticker on the front. But Ive always dug the McCarthy books, so I forged ahead. It really deserves every iota of hype it got. Truly powerful stuff that I try to obnoxiously push on people who still havent read it. It shook me to the core, nearly in tears on the final page. If you have not read this book, you can finish it in a day or two and I highly suggest picking it up.
Now for the flick. I had feared the worst, because this was supposed to come out around Halloween2008. Never a good sign. But I love the Viggo, and a couple years back I had rented and greatly enjoyed a flick from this new director (John Hillcoat) called The Proposition. Then the trailer leaked, and it really looked like they turned this into an action packed Hollywood blockbuster akin to I Am Legend or something. But early screeners columns assured me that there was nothing to worry about, so I still held out hope. Thankfully, they pretty much nailed it.
For the uninitiated, The Road takes places in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (what has happened is never explained, because its irrelevant) where an unnamed man and his son battle fatigue, the elements and starvation as they try to reach the coast on foot, trying to live and avoid a handful of crazed survivors turned roving cannibals. All the while carrying a pistol. Two bullets. Not to fight off a horde but to take their own lives in the event that they are captured to spare being raped and eaten. The action is sparse (but hits like a ton of bricks when it comes) and is more about the relationship between the cynical father and his optimistic son.
There are people who will tell you that this is a bleak, depressing story. To a degree they are right but they are overlooking the message and the humanity. The movie mostly consists of sparse dialogue between father and son as they pillage abandoned structures for something to live on. But it really speaks to the talents of everyone involved, both on page and film, that the most mundane tasks leave you with baited breath.
They nailed the look of this flick too. This is exactly
what I had envisioned as I read it. For a relatively small flick, it looks like
they had some big money behind it to pull this off.
Not to say there are no faults here. The mans wife (Theron) shows up in flashback form, and those are slightly expanded here, and not necessarily for the better, but I cant say they hurt it either. The boy who plays, the boy, got on my nerves from time to time, hes too much of a whiner on screen and as a result a bit of the message from the character in the novel is lost in translation.
3 Things I Liked About This Movie:
-It is the novel come to life. Thats as much as anyone could ask for.
-They dont coat it in Hollywood glitz and let an already powerful story speak for itself.
-They harness a Hitchcock-ian style of intensity by inaction
3 Things I Didnt Like About This Movie:
-The boy was a slight miscast
-Flashbacks seem expanded just to give Theron more face time
-A years worth of re-editing made it feel a bit choppy at times. Id like to see the original print.
All in all awesome flick. Doesnt improve upon the
original source material the way No Country for Old Men did, but this is a
bigger challenge and is in no way a disservice to fans.