The Road (2009)
Adapted from the best selling novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road tells the story of a father and son – survivors of an unspecified apocalyptic event – who have embarked on a journey through a ravaged wilderness in the hope that they can find a safe place offering food, warmth and shelter.
Their travels are fraught with danger, not least because of the cannibal gangs who roam the countryside in search of fresh meat. Food is highly scarce since there are no crops or animals left to offer sustenance, plus earthquakes, flash fires and other freak events also hinder the duo on their journey.
This is not the most uplifting of tales, but manages to capture the spirit of humanity's desire to survive in spite of horrific and hopeless circumstances. The relationship between father and son is beautifully and painfully portrayed. The enormous weight of responsibility rests heavily on the shoulders of Viggo Mortensen's character. His job is to protect and care for his son, whatever the cost, to somehow get him to safety while the world around them crumbles and dies.
This story is far deeper and emotionally poignant than similar post-apocalyptic tales such as the slicker, big budget I Am Legend. Those films tend to revel in the end of the world scenario just a bit too much. The Road isn't afraid to show it, but I think it makes more of a conscious effort to portray the post-apocalyptic world as a backdrop rather than a star in its own right. Being a dad myself, I could easily relate to Mortensen's character. Even before seeing this film, I'd often think about what I would do in a similar situation. It's certainly not one to wish for.
Films such as these remind us of the fragility of modern society and civilization. We are too easily lulled into a false sense of security about the world around us – the idea of having no light, heat, water or electricity seems so alien to us and yet not so far off. All it takes is an event like the Japanese tsunami and we're all sent beck to the stone age.
I was surprised at the brief appearance by Guy Pearce. Thankfully, his involvement in the film wasn't what made me want to see it. His character was so ragged and scruffy that I didn't know who he was until the final credits. Odd that he got such a high-profile billing.
Overall, this was a good film to watch. Not exactly enjoyable, but well made and brilliantly acted.
Verdict: 8 out of 10.