In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea.In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea.In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea.
Dystopia is popular right now. From the unending surge of zombies (World War Z, Walking Dead, etc.) to YA (Hunger Games, Maze Runner) to more series, adult media (Automata, Blade Runner 2049).
For all their attempts at making the future look grim, I personally find them quite appealing. I loathe paperwork, you see. It's the bane of my existence. I'm someone who does. I enjoy my job, for the most part, but mention 'stakeholders', 'APR percentage' and 'audits' and my brain switches off. I honestly don't care, and it stresses the hell out of me. It does more than that. It makes me miserable - depressed, even. I can't cope with it. I can't cope with the intricacies of the bureaucratic system. It confuses me, it gets me into trouble when I don't even know why, I hate it. I hate it with a passion.
I have anarchic tendencies. I believe that our biology is designed to help us survive against nature. We're intelligent beings, and we've evolved to cope with the adversities thrown at us by nature.
The thing is, I believe I would stand a better-than-average chance of surviving the apocalypse. I'm intelligent, and I'm tough as old boots. Ask me to do a tax rebate and I'm utterly useless, but I don't care about the cold or the heat or noise while I sleep. I'll deal with that no problem.
And that's the thing with dystopian fiction - it appeals to me. They show us worlds where people like me would actually be quite successful when the vast majority of people would flounder.
But not The Road. I've read the book, and it's bleak. Utterly, utterly bleak. I'm under no illusion that our usual media diet romanticises the apocalypse - makes it strangely appealing, despite everything. The Road does not. From start to finish, it's cynical, miserable, depressing, extremely grey (like, it might as well be in black and white) and raw.
There's no attempt as making the apocalypse look positive - adding some glamour into it like the Fallout games do.
This is not really science fiction. If you address it rationally by questioning the character motivations you'll be disappointed. This is not really sci fi in the traditional sense. This isn't a strict narrative. Characters act irrationally, even stupidly, and the whole cause of the apocalypse is unexplained.
This, instead, is a drama with an apocalyptic backdrop. It's completely non-political. It doesn't care about the causes of the trouble, but rather how people react to it. It's a psychological examination of the question: 'How do you retain your sense of morality when everyone else has forsaken theirs?'.
That's a difficult question to answer. Does the film do it satisfactorily? In my view, no. It's a big topic, and I wonder if the film has felt too conflicted by its commercial needs to make some money and its desire to tell a more cerebral narrative than your average blockbuster. Certain aspects are glossed over. Other things are ignored completely and logic falls by the wayside more than once.
It moved me, however. To tears. And it really did get me thinking. Hey, life's pretty good. I may not be brilliant at coping with the unending form-filling and I'm never going to care much about the petty conflicts that dominate local politics, but I have money, food and shelter...and friends...and family. That's what storytelling is about.
If you go into The Road expecting a zombie-style action-fest you'll be disappointed. It's slow-paced and repetitive and never gives any character any glory, No one's a hero. Go into it, right now, at this time when the media is fixated on the Middle East conflict(s), Russia, North Korea, Cambridge Analytica, nationalism, #metoo, Brexit, Trump, Iran, whatever and everyone is losing their s*** and you might find yourself approaching it very differently.
- May 3, 2018