Friday, September 6, 2013

Movie Review - The Road (2009)

The world is ravaged and humanity is slowly becoming extinct.  The sun is blotted out by constant grey clouds, and there is no sign of any living animal or plant life.  Many people turn to cannibalism, hunting down other vulnerable individuals.  The Road captures a father and son's struggle to survive in this post apocalyptic environment, refusing to eat other human beings and scavenging for food.   

Man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) move south, stopping where they can find shelter from the cold and attempting to avoid other groups of people.  Visually and atmospherically similar to The Book of Eli, The Road is a more unflinching, bleak, and tangible reality.  There are no action stars or scenes, just constant struggle, death, and a loose grip on hope.  The Book of Eli feels more like mythology/fantasy as The Road emotes more of a nightmarish existence. 

Aside from the dark future created by director John Hillcoat derived from Cormac McCarthy's novel, there are some flashbacks that feel out of place.  Man has flashbacks thinking about how happy he used to be with his wife (Charlize Theron), but these scenes feel forced because he is portrayed as a present minded thinker, always worrying about his son's safety and teaching him how to survive on his own.  You would presume he has dreams of the dangerous traumatic situations they experience every day or something more to the effect of his son's current health.

The beating center of the story is clear: is there still a purpose for surviving when all that exists ahead is fear and suffering?  There is a constant struggle between the man and his son: the son still believes in helping others, when the father constantly fears about becoming vulnerable.  When stripped down of our moral and ethical codes in order to stay alive, are we still human?  Does humanity truly die with the collapse of civilizations?  Or does the future have a chance in the few that still believe in doing what's right?

The Road is currently available for stream on Netflix.

Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language


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