The Road (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Road</strong> (2009)

(In theatres, December 2009) There’s been a lot of post-apocalyptic films lately, and hopefully The Road will signal that we can go back to something else, because it’s hard to imagine a realistic take on the end of the world that could be greyer, sadder and more relentlessly desperate than this one.  There’s no glamour, fun or adventure in this film set about a decade after an unseen, unspecified but all-encompassing catastrophe: The rare survivors are grimy and constantly forced to fight cannibals on their way.  As an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel of the same name, it’s pretty faithful: Charlize Theron has a far bigger role in the film’s trailer than in the entire book, but the rest is pretty dead-on.  This means that rather than reading 241 bleak pages trying to find new ways to describe “gray doom”, you get to see 112 very long minutes of the same.  While The Road is a success in that it does manage to hit most of its objectives, it will take a special kind of viewer to appreciate it.  The rest are likely to spend their time looking at their watches and wondering when it will finally end (and if the characters can’t die a bit sooner for it to happen.)  I suppose that film scholars will have a lot to say about the film’s nuanced take on fatherhood, man’s inhumanity to man, the nature of hope and the way decaying character is seldom self-perceived, but first you have to endure the post-apocalyptic gloom.  Viggo Mortensen fans will be pleased; so will those looking for buildings unexplainably still burning ten years after everything goes gray.  As for the rest, well, 2012 is also available.  Now that is a catastrophic choice.

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