The Road (2009) film review – nail-biting, finger eating tension

The Road film reviewThe only moment of comedy that can be attributed to this stark, post apocalyptic film is the childish inner laugh you get from the chance to ask “can I get one for The Road” when you go to buy tickets from the cinema box office. Other than that it’s a gruelling vision of how life could be if the worst came to the worst, however, it’s not entirely without a ray of sunlight here and there.

It’s the one film we’ve seen in a long time that re-instilled our faith in humanity with its gritty story of a father and son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world of horror. After watching it, you might be inclined to start smiling randomly at people in the street or on the tube, because these are the ones that you’ll have around you if things ever got really bad. These may well be the same people you ordinarily scowl at threateningly to make sure they don’t think about coming at you with a sharpened rusty screwdriver, but maybe if we all come together a bit more things won’t be all that terrible.

Anyway, that aside, The Road reaches a fever pitch of intensity as soon as you see Papa, played by Viggo Mortensen, and his son, the excellent Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse), in their first encounter with the cannibalistic “bad guys”. From that point on you’re constantly scanning the bleak horizon for signs of trouble, you’re eyes dart to shadows on the screen and you distrust every encounter that they have with any other signs of life in the bleak world that they trudge through.

Based on the Pulizer Prize-winning book written by Cormac McCarthy, The Road follows the man and boy as they head south to try to find salvation at the coast from the end of the world. Every piece of dialogue and every scene is perfectly crafted, and the acting skills make the film completely believable. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), who seems to be on a bit of a post-apocalyptic type-casting deal at the moment with the epic Mad Max film, puts in a great performance as the lost wife and mother.

Robert Duvall’s dying old man role is played wonderfully, portraying the heightened importance of humanity when the path starts to get murky with his well balanced delivery. There’s also a short appearance from Guy Pearce (Lawless), which confirms the great casting that has gone into making the movie such a credible adaptation of McCarthy’s incredible book.

All in all, The Road is probably the best end-of-the-world film we’ve seen, despite a couple of plot lines that don’t always make a great deal of sense (Papa is always making decisions that seem to get them into trouble, but then things are pretty tense so it’s probably understandable). However, it falls into the same trap that they all do and ends sort of half-heartedly, without the same tension and power of the rest of the film.

This can’t take away the perfect performances, crafted backdrops or the sentiment behind the film, but it’s a noticeable lull that comes just before the credits. It does add a little to the deep seated moral and trust quandary that plagues Papa throughout the film, but it could have ended on a stronger note.

The Road (2009) film review: 4/5

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