Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Garrett Dillahunt & Guy Pearce.
Written by Joe Penhall.
Directed by John Hillcoat.
In 1988, Australian-born director John Hillcoat made the magnificent little film Ghosts…Of The Civil Dead, featuring a memorable performance from musician Nick Cave. A swag of video clips and one other film ensued until more than a decade later when Hillcoat returned to Australia to shoot the colonial ‘Western’ The Proposition, earning him much praise. So when he decided to adapt Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Road, it generated some excitement (and some trepidation) as to the proper direction that any adaptation of the novel must take. And Hillcoat delivered. For The Road is one hell of a film – a post-apocalyptic nightmare, littered with some of the most unforgettable imagery of recent times. Utilising drab filters, crafty visual effects and impressive restraint, Hillcoat’s film is as emotionally devestating as it is visually stunning, thanks in large part to the wonderful cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe (New Moon). There are no tidal waves demolishing Manhattan, no comets tearing off the spires of tall buildings and no scenes of mass panic and death. Instead, we have allusions to the apocalypse – even the flashback sequences before the collapse of civilisation are presented intimately and without destructive detail. The really scary things are those elements that require personal visualisation, the things that have happened off screen. And at the centre of this tale are a father and son, struggling to survive the rotting wilderness and keep clear of the cannibal tendencies of fellow humans. Here Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are tremendous in difficult roles, given great support from a number of excellent actors, most notably Robert Duvall. Cave and his partner in crime Warren Ellis provide another fine soundtrack, reminiscent of their work on The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, creating an aural landscape as unrelentingly grim and depressing as the film itself. Anyone looking to see Mad Max meets 2012 should stay well clear – for The Road is a work of apocalyptic art unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
by Wadrick Jones