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.
Among the first words spoken in The Road (adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel) are "It's just another earthquake.". That's supposed to be reassuring.
It's a bleak, devastated, post-apocalyptic world leached of everything: color, sounds, names, sunshine, warmth, joy, hope. Thru it trudge The Man (Viggo Mortenson) and The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), slowly and painfully making their way to "the coast", where maybe things will be marginally better. Who can say? But what else is there?
Along the way they encounter The Gang Member (Garret Dillahunt, still as creepy and frightening as he was in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Last House on the Left), The Road Gang Leader (Brenna Roth), The Old Man (Robert Duvall), The Thief (Michael K. Williams), and The Veteran (Guy Pearce) and his woman (Molly Parker). In flashbacks to an achingly lost former life, we see The Wife (Charlize Theron).
And really, once you've named the names, you've pretty well covered the movie. The name of the game is Survival, tho none can say what the point of it is. The food is gone, and clearly no more will be growing. Humans are apparently the only animals to survive the unnamed global disaster, so they represent the sole remaining, rapidly dwindling source of protein. The voices you hear approaching are not the Red Cross.
Some choose not to play. The Wife, after some low-energy soul-searching, goes the ancient-Eskimo route. "She was gone," The Man remembers, "and the coldness of it was her final gift."
Others persevere for no cogent reason. "DId you ever wish you would die?", The Man asks. "No," The Old Man replies, "it's foolish to ask for luxuries in times like these."
The Man and The Boy have 1 gun with 2 bullets left; they are not being reserved for potential assailants. In some of the movie's most agonizing scenes, we see The Man explain not only what must be done but why.
I walked into this movie 10 hours after leaving the theater where Avatar splashed the screen with color, motion, activity, purpose, a 3rd dimension, and a superb sound track. It is difficult to imagine 2 more disparate films in terms of tone and atmosphere. But both are extremely effective at making their respective worlds seem completely real.
The movie is unremittingly grim and completely believable. It doesn't pull its punches or sell out. It will haunt you. It's unlikely that anyone else will ever make another movie that treats the end of the world so realistically, so if you want to see the standard against which all others will be compared, this is your chance.
Stay away if you're depressed or prone to it, and avoid razor blades for 12 hours afterward.
- Dec 18, 2009