Comments on watching and making films.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Road

Cormac McCarthy is one of those novelist's that filmmakers read their books and ache to turn them into films. Why it has taken so long for this to happen, I have no idea. Many years ago, we got All The Pretty Horses, which I never got to see (but my ex-coworker and friend Steve Crawford was in, as a body double for Matt Damon). It seems to be relatively hard to find on DVD these days, so, who knows when I will get to see it. The next one came MANY years later, in the form of the Coen Brother's fantastic adaptation of No Country For Old Men. Now, with Blood Meridian SUPPOSEDLY on the horizon (though I wouldn't count on it), we've got another McCarthy adaptation in our laps, The Road, and I got a chance to see a sneak preview of it at the American Cinematheque in LA.

The film revolves around a father, played by Viggo Mortensen, and his son, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and their mission to make it south of where ever it is they are, down to "the coast". There really isn't any geography given in this film, so, its hard to tell exactly where they come from and where they're going, except for vague references. The Man (Mortensen) knows that, in this post apocalyptic world they are living in, where the trees, animals, and crops are all dead, he must protect his son at all costs from marauding gangs and cannibals. For all he knows, the two of them may be some of the very few surviving humans left, and they must keep the compassion of humanity alive at all costs, even when it means showing none.

Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are in, literally EVERY scene of this film, so, by the time its over, you feel like you've gotten to know their characters inside out. The film is undeniably bleak, with every hint of good that happens in these two's lives balanced by a heaping pile of horror. One scene, in the basement of a house, is especially horrifying (I won't spoil it for you). John Hillcoat, who directed the Neo-Western The Proposition, brings a masterful hand to the film and creates a world that cuts to the audiences very core. With the recent collapse of Wall Street, and mounting environmental problems, one is hard pressed to not leave the theater without wondering if, in five years or ten years or tomorrow, they could be one of the last humans alive, and walking down that same road.

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