THE ROAD is based on the popular best selling novel by the same name written by Cormac McCarthy. Film is a different medium and should never be compared to the book but after seeing THE ROAD I’m curious to read the novel and hopefully capture the greatness that was just missed. THE ROAD is so close to being a great movie or at least a great movie for my taste: The end of days in an apocalyptic fashion, a family struggling to survive and a moral message about people being good and evil. These three elements thrown together should make for a pretty interesting story. And it is interesting but it could have been so much more.
A father and his son are traveling the road on foot in a dreary desolate post apocalyptic earth. We are not given any names; we simply identify them as father and son. They scavenge and take what they can along the way, trying to keep warm and hidden from others who have mostly gone cannibalistic. Two bullets remain in their pistol destined for themselves rather than tortured and eaten alive by others. As they keep traveling the son keeps his father in check by always making sure that they are still the good guys.
All the performances here are great. Vigo Mortensen does amazing work here. Every shot of him I can see his heart through his eyes. Newcomer, Kodi Smit-McPhee also does well as his son. He has to carry a lot in this film and that is no easy feat for a child actor. The supporting cast also does an outstanding job. Charlize Theron plays the wife and mother in a few flashbacks that are just as dark and sad as the current time. Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce have extremely tiny rolls but pivotal nonetheless. Duvall’s performance would be Oscar worthy if it were only given a few more moments. In his short amount of screen time he commands the picture. I only wish we could have seen more.
As the movie began I immediately was emotionally invested. The setting along with the father’s struggle to protect his son swept me right up. I can’t say enough how Vigo Mortensen does such a fantastic job. His looks convey so much emotion that my heart just hurt and I was literally cringing when he and his son faced opposition in land, climate and people. I think the problem may have been that we are introduced to the scarier scenarios earlier on and then the danger is lessened as the film progresses to the end. Well, that may not be a fair statement because the danger of the destruction of the land and hopelessness is still thick but the danger of the people becomes more of a trust issue. The good are hurting each other because they are so afraid of the bad. I really like this message but visually the pacing of these events for film doesn’t quite translate as well. I do think this is a movie that deserves some breathing room, letting the horrific scenarios stay with you and ponder. I want to be clear that I really liked this film. I just wanted to like it more.