19 November 2009 | MovieNut237
"The Road" a Fresh Approach to Tired Post-Apocalyptic Genre
By Zach Copeland "The Road" Takes Fresh Approach to Post-Apocalyptic Genre Ever since God flooded out the entire human race in the early pages of Genesis, literature has abounded with stories of the apocalypse. For generation after generation, from The Book of Revelations to The Stand, we have obsessed over the end of the world, how it will come to pass, and what, if anything, we can do to stop it. Now that humankind has reached a point where the End could conceivably happen in an afternoon, our glimpses into this theoretical future are all the more intriguing. And they've never been more important.
The Road, directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition) and based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men), is a dark, poignant story of a father and son journeying through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, withstanding harsh weather, malnutrition, and under the constant threat of marauders, thieves and cannibals. Their goal is simple: to carry on.
Those looking to sink their teeth into mindless disaster-porn (not that there's anything wrong with that) can get their fix elsewhere. The Road is a smaller, more penetrating film that draws strength from its intimacy and its ability to do so much with so little.
Viggo Mortensen gives an emotional tour de force as the embattled father; look for him on the red carpet come March. Watching children act is oftentimes painful for me, but I thought Kodi Smit-McPhee was impressive and genuine as the son, and takes on the task of being in literally every scene with rare fearlessness. Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce give small but highly memorable performances, Duvall in particular, whose portrayal of a withered old man journeying all alone will haunt you.
The desolate environment in which the story takes place is itself a character, foreign yet eerily familiar, and so perfectly conceptualized that it matches – heck, surpasses the standard of realism set by films such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men. Shot throughout four states, including at the site of the Mount St. Helens eruption, Hillcoat and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (The Others, The Sea Inside) paint a backdrop that is altogether beautiful and devastating.
They say that every generation since the dawn of man has feared the End, and while this may be true, not every generation has seen what our modern technology is capable of. The Road is a dark looking glass into our future, and what it is likely to become if our primal nature is left unchecked.
Early in the film, the son looks at his father and asks him, "We're the good guys, right?" The father's response is in the affirmative, but as their situation become increasingly desperate, that sense of morality we think to be ingrained is put to the test. Hillcoat does a masterful job of portraying human beings as what we are and always have been. He holds up a mirror to the world and hypnotizes you with it.
As far as post-apocalyptic movies go, The Road is hands-down one of the best ever made. Despite its raw, gritty facade, which will understandably be a turn-off for many theatergoers, the story underneath has a sense of serenity that everyone can relate to.
The Road opens everywhere on November 25. Need I say more? *The Film Crusade* www.filmcrusade.com/survive-and-advance/