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Was the long trip down The Road worth it?


The Road (2009)

We’ve finally traveled down the ash-covered road and we’ve come back to tell you about it.

“The Road” is a story about a father and his son traveling a wasted world where everything has burned. The land and the sky is covered in ash, and those who are still alive have either chosen to survive by any means necessary or try to keep some civility while still defending themselves whenever trouble arises.

“The Road” has been a long time coming, but it’s worth the wait. The casting is superb and the story, based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel by the same name, is a very effective story. Direction is solid and the score sets the correct tone for the film.

You know it’s coming right?

Your assumptions are correct.

There’s a big, fat “BUT!”

The novel was fantastic and the translation to film, by Joe Penhall, stays faithful but the story has been restructured for apparently no good reason. Anyone who has read the novel can attest to the fact that it feels a lot like a movie already. The pacing of the novel works fine, but in the movie version of “The Road,” we get the pieces of the puzzle restructured. Although the final image is the same, there is no connection to the characters and a huge lack of surprise in the story. For a more spoiler-filled critique of the story read this.

Cast performances are superb. The few times you notice an opportunity for a slight improvement it can be blamed on direction and/or dialogue. Viggo Mortensen succeeds in emoting the desire of a father and husband trying desperately to keep his family alive – and together. Kodi Smit-McPhee is innocent and puzzled by his father and the world around him, as any young and inexperienced child would be. Charlize Theron gives a great performance for the limited screen time she has. Robert Duvall fits the bill, though Guy Pearce is a little creepier than he should have been.

The score (by Nick Cave) sets the mood appropriately, but never reaches beyond that to be the conduit between the audience and the characters.

The direction is solid, but lacks a bit of vision. If you are shooting a world where you can’t see the sky past the ash and clouds, and the land is also covered in ash, you have to put a little extra effort in shot selection. John Hillcoat does a good job, but you have to wonder what this movie would have been like under the direction of Tarsem Singh (slightly toned down) or Frank Darabont (for some reason Darabont seems like the perfect choice).

Was the trip down “The Road” worth it? It sure was, but we have to agree with the buzz on the ‘net (in general) that this movie could have been amazing. Guess we’ll have to settle for it being great.



Official website:

The Road (2009)


Directed by: John Hillcoat
Written by: Joe Penhall - Novel by: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker, Charlize Theron

Source of the Bitter: JAS

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
Que on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 12:14pm

mmh, interesting.... going to a movie hoping to find something to pick on...

JAS on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 1:26pm

No, just really picky and I loved the book (and the movie, despite the minor gripes). :)

Que on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 2:31pm

since I havn't read the book so there might be a big chance I will love the movie after all.

I always liked Viggo Mortensen, hoping that he will get some decent roles which fit him better for his talent. he seems getting there these days, eventually, all thanks to the LOTR I suppose.

but I really didn't dig his Hidalgo.

Que on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 2:22am

so it was not so good ah? I almost went to cinema for this one...

JAS on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 11:15am

No, no. It was a good movie. The complaint is that it could have been a great one.

You should check it out. In fact, I might end up seeing again this week.

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