• James Rutherford

'The Road': A Somber and Haunting Journey Through the Remnants of Post-Apocalyptic America


Movie poster for the film The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee

"The Road" (2009) is a somber and deeply involving drama set in post-apocalyptic America, as a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travel by foot through the remnants of civilization. Following an unspecified global catastrophe that has eradicated the majority of mankind, the pair trudges toward the coastline in search of food, supplies and warmer climate.


In flashback we witness the birth of the boy shorty after the deadly cataclysm, the boy's mother (Charlize Theron) ultimately losing all hope for the future and abandoning her family. As the father and son plod deliberately through the wreckage of northeast America, they must carefully evade gangs of vicious cannibals who subsist on human flesh due to the absence of all plant life. Their efforts invariably bring them face-to-face with these brutal antagonists, however, as they continually scramble and claw for the sake of their very survival.


Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy and directed by Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat ('The Proposition", "Lawless"), "The Road" is a darkly visionary tale of survivalism, benefitting enormously from Mortensen and Smit-McPhee's achingly aggrieved performances. Hillcoat, for his part, delivers McCarthy's work to the screen with remarkable accuracy—perfectly capturing the book's melancholy tone and darkly ominous visual motif (tip of the hat to cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe). Equally haunting, absorbing and utterly heartfelt, it ultimately serves as a thoughtful depiction of father-son intimacy and the unique ties that bind and secure.

 

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