Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Review: This Is One Seriously Grim Road, And It's Terrific

"And whoever made humanity, will find no humanity here. No sir. No sir. So beware... Beware..." 

The Road, based off the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee and a supporting role by Charlize Theron--has no atmosphere. Has no mood. Has no sunlight. Has no animals and barely any insects. No electricity. Has no food or vegetables. Has no feelings, or remorse. Only the death of the land that is now gone, and the life that was once on it. It doesn't sugar-coat, or try to sell a million tickets to make it's investor's happy. It doesn't have a gaudy trailer that invites you to come and witness something for college kids or tween audiences who want a thrilling story. It does the book some good, and turns itself into the the little engine that could. It achieves the feat in itself of translating a Cormac McCarthy novel to the screen. And then wins double the points when it does it right.
The Road, directed by John Hillcoat. The dude responsible for making Australian cowboys not only real, but badass with depth and redeeming qualities even in the '05 film The Proposition. He did it again here with pitch perfect casting and honest transcribing from page to picture. Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this thing, let me just say that I loved this film, loved this film, loved this film. So, if you're a reader, and you trust my criticism, taste and eagle eye analyzing, then go see it if that's good enough for you. That'd be fuckin' raw son if it was. 

But to be honest, this film is like Public Enemies, in the same sense that it's an honest account of something. Which means, it doesn't con you into feeling good about the story so you'll brag to your friends how cool it is, you might even feel like hammered shit steaming on the sidewalk in high noon when you think about it. But sometimes, that's the best parts about movies, when they are honest and true to form. And this does the trick, it makes you feel as if this world is really a shitty place to live, and this movie is the real deal about it. No overpaid, diva actors who can't translate the source material because they really suck and are usd to blockbusters with hollow characters and easy-peasy performances. And speaking of, I won't spoil it, but this film is full of seriously well done little cameos, and I'm not talking about  Theron, who is common knowledge to be in the film. She does just as good a job as you'd think she would, as the  fuck the world, I hate my life cuz my mom deleted my WOW account wife to The Man, and mother to The Boy. With all the emptiness and hate for the world she keeps inside no more, she almost feels offended about living (or the way they made her hair and make-up look). Maybe both?

Viggo Mortensen is a father in real life, and he translates all those principles he kept as he raised his son into his character wonderfully. Not once do you ever get the sense that the two of them aren't supposed to be together in the film. Now, of course, not without saying, Kodi Smit-McPhee is exceptional as the son raised in the post-apocalyptic world with his mother lost, and no place to call home for more than a single night. They both wear the dread, the fear, and the concern of all things around them perfectly on their faces. There is a point in the fim, where they both find a small point of salvation and oh boy do we feel good for them, as they "bath" in the glory of things they once thought they'd never see again. You might never know they pangs of a the world they experience every day until you see the wonder and joy The Boy feels as he sips from a can coke for the first time in his life. 

The 76 year old author's work is no easy task to translate. God knows how bad Billy Bob screwed the pooch on All The Pretty Horses arguably Cormac's most celebrated work. And then The Coen's came back with No Country For Old Men and gave me a film that took my heart to new levels as i fell in love from the first shot of the desert and Jones' first words uttered. And with the latest edition to Cormac's book-to-films, the cast and crew did what they though was appropriate to do in shooting this project. They assembled something that will gain more respect in years to come, as all under-appreciated/misunderstood films tend to do. (Simply judging from the general consensus out there that the film sorta missed with audiences) We'll only have to see what Todd Field (Little Children, In The Bedroom) will do with Blood Meridian. Widely recognized not only as McCarthy's masterpiece, but also as one of the most acclaimed American novels of the 20th century period. I'm all about Field and his work, a 2/2 Oscar nominee in screenwriting. With him now adapting not only a McCarthy novel, but this one, I'm real stoked about what's gonna be coming for our eyes and ears in theaters.

Hillcoat is the one I'm on the lookout for.  Whichever route he decides to go with his next film, I'll be there to proverbially shake his hand and enjoy each and every frame of his work.


  1. If you've got that movie you HAVE to hand it over...they weren't playing that shit in theaters anywhere around here

  2. Oh, and if you could get the Ghostwriter, that'd be great