Thursday, December 23, 2010

641 - The Road review

“The Road” was maddeningly obtuse novelist Cormac McCarthy’s Oprah Novel, his most commercially accessible and perhaps sentimental work. Of course, for him that still includes an apocalyptic landscape, cannibals, so much ash you’ll taste it as you read, and even the incentive to look up the word “catamite.” It’s as harrowing a work as I’ve ever read, McCarthy’s vision of a poisoned earth resonating with fierce gloom and ultimately a bright beam of light.

John Hillcoat’s adaptation gets the look right, but the human element never clicks like it should. The unnamed father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) meander down the eastern United States in what amounts to an episodic series of events when played onscreen, with only two cartridges remaining and a vague hope of a more livable climate in the south. Hillcoat doesn’t manage to build much tension over the course of their trek, and a series of non-book scenes featuring Charlize Theron don’t add the contextual power that was clearly hoped for. Even as the pair travels, emotionally, the film’s static, taking us nowhere into the desperation and fear of a father for his son shown in the novel. It’s easy to see why this failed to register even as a blip on the awards circuit last year.

2.5 out of 5

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