Release Date (UK) – 8 January 2010
Certificate (UK) – 15
Country – USA
Director – John Hillcoat
Runtime – 112 mins
Starring – Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Charlize Theron
The Road is based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote the novel that Coen brothers Oscar winning No Country for Old Men was based on. With a January UK release window after months in post production this adaptation is also aiming to get a few similar nominations. Set after an unexplained disaster ravages the world The Road follows father and son (Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) on their journey through a devastated America in search of food and, ultimately, survival.
With a very sparse plot the novel was always going to be hard to adapt to the screen and John Hillcoat’s film is incredibly faithful to the book, condensing the timeline down whilst keeping the major events in. The most notable difference between film and book is that the novels most horrific imagery and scenes are removed. Whether done for certification purposes or to make a less miserable story, it means that the real devastation that McCarthy envisaged is neglected. The man and boy don’t seem to suffer through as much hardship in a world not quite so physically devastated. However the harrowing scenes that are kept in are so effectively filmed and acted that even though I knew what was coming I was still incredibly scared.
Viggo Mortensen is rumoured to be nominated for an Oscar for this role, but for me it’s Smit-McPhee who really pulls the punches with his acting skills. Charlize Theron also makes an appearance as the wife and mother in flashback scenes, but like most of the population she gave up on trying to survive, and her scenes are a tad cringe worthy, extended from the novel to buff the plot out a bit. The special effects used to depict a devastated America are very synthetic, perhaps over produced by the amount of time the film has spent in production.
Whilst the film has given in to mainstream Hollywood conventions, more interested in winning audiences and awards than honestly relaying McCarthy’s disparaging look at the end of humanity its still an interesting topic and captivating tale. It’s a recommended watch, but disappointing perhaps for avid fans of the book as its recreation of the beautiful imagery created by McCarthys prose in the book feels far too artificial.
Watch The Road Trailer here