Based on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this screen adaption captures the hopeless state of an Earth after an unnamed and devastating catastrophe. A father (Viggo Mortenson) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travel through the ravaged forests and dystopian suburbia of post-apocalyptic America, avoiding cannibals and surviving earthquakes. We never learn what has happened, and we never learn the names of The Man and The Boy during their journey south. We do know that things haven't always been this way. The Man's dreams return us to the vibrant past, the world we currently inhabit, while in his reality he must turn a sofa cushion to its underside in order to reveal even the slightest hint of colour. In The Road, even the sea is a shade of grey. The filmstays true to the novel, tracing its plot with deft accuracy. It omits only a few details deemed too horrific, instead offering a more elaborate and heart-rending backstory for The Man's absent wife (Charlize Theron). The charitable urges of The Boy, who shows kindness despite having no memory of a normal society, brightens the film's bleakness. Yet despite glimmers of hope, The Road is definitely not a DVD to pop on without some serious consideration. This film is beautifully made and wonderfully acted, and provides an entirely plausible portrayal of a devastated world. It's real power, though, comes from how difficult and heartbreaking it is to watch. Just don't expect to come away feeling comforted.
Published: August 10, 2010 04:00 AM