Director John Hillcoat, has quite frankly, struck gold. His production of The Road is by far one of the more genuine films of the entire year.
For those unfamiliar with either the book or the movie, the story takes place about a decade into the future, where our world has been torn apart and ravished by some unknown disaster(s). The main characters are the Man and his son, the Boy, whom when not fighting for their lives against cannibals and street gangs, are struggling to find food on the dead planet they inhabit. Amidst the sunless sky, there is only bleakness, but that is the only life the Boy has ever known, having been born into this terrible world.
While this summary may sound like a rather bleak movie, it isn’t. I feel obliged to say, that instead, The Road might actually be one of the most heartfelt and immensely optimistic movies of the year. Amazingly, John Hillcoat was able to be strikingly faithful to Cormac McCarthy’s novel, making a near-perfect adaptation, capturing all the emotions, all the fear, all the beauty, and most importantly, the all-encompassing sense of hope.
Viggo Mortensen plays his role perfectly, leaving nothing on the table, being the father who’s willing to do everything and anything to protect his son, even if it means killing the boy himself to save him from the horrors of the world. Yet the performance that truly left me stunned was the 11-year old Kodi Smit-McPhee, the kid who plays the Boy. This child may be one of the greatest things to come into movies for quite some time now, delivering one of the most powerful performances that I have seen in a very long time. The sheer fact that he is only 11, makes for something as well. I don’t know about you, but the 11 year olds that I know, and I don’t known any except in memory, would not be able to act so superbly as our young star here.
Overall, this movie is everything an adaptation of a great book should be, and more. The ending is both optimistic and hopeful, letting people know that there is a chance for our species, even if that chance is few and far between. If there is a movie that needs to be viewed, if for no other reason than its life-affirming nature, it is this one.