Another post-apocalyptic movie? Seems there can’t be too many of them these days. The difference though with The Road is that it has a real story and isn’t reliant on special effects to tell it. Adapted from the brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, it stays very close to the book’s original plot. And that may be why it never gets beyond being a good movie.
The Road is a very bleak, very quiet story of a father and son trying to make it to a better, warmer location after some unnamed cataclysm has turned the earth into a bitter cold, gray place, and while many of the remaining people have become murderous, cannibalistic scavengers. Sounds like a zombie movie, but it isn’t played that way. Instead it is a painful journey where you really want them to make it, even though you’re not entirely sure what they are moving towards. You want them to find food in a world that has been picked over for years before the film begins. But there are no superheroes to save the day, just a normal father trying the best he can to keep his son safe for an unknown future.
I think there are some great books that defy a great adaptation. The Road may be one of those books. Or it may be that they chose to stay too close to the book. It is depressingly realistic about a world that is dying without much hope. What worked in the book doesn’t serve as well in a movie. Having said that, I’d be interested to know how someone who has not read the book sees the movie. I think it is very effective most of the time, though the music is intrusive in places. Viggo Mortensen is wonderful as the haunted father and Robert Duvall does a very effective cameo. It is a good movie, just not a great one.
I would highly recommend reading the book.
And here is an interesting article with the writer about his screening of the movie for Cormac McCarthy.