If you have had a bad day, your girlfriend dumped you, you have troubles at work or might be feeling down because someone swiped the last piece of cake you had been dreaming about all day long, The Road is the movie that will drive you over the edge, so hide all sharp objects before you buy a ticket. It is magnificent in its desolation.
Viggo Mortensen stars as The Man - a father desperately trying to make his way to the coast with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a post-apocalyptic world where Earth seems to be dying all around them. Not many have survived, and those who have must scavenge for food, seek rudimentary shelter and avoid the gangs of marauders who have decided to survive in a more despicable way. For most, suicide is a more attractive option, but The Man continues to preach hope to his son.
Can The Man and his son make it to the coast?
What will they find?
While 2012 and The Road both are about the end of the world as we know it, 2012 is more like a cartoon starring Daffy Duck while The Road is an Oscar contender. It's the choice between cotton candy and steak.
Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall (based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy), The Road isn't driven by a plot, but a series of challenges to the soul. The Man and his son face a succession of difficulties that would break 99% of us in this bleak scenario, but Mortensen wonderfully shows us the character's stubbornness and confusion.
Why does he want to live? Mortensen continues to keep us wondering as his character is full of distrust and negativity about the world, but continues to fight for his survival, while Smit-McPhee is the pure, naïve soul who wants to trust and still has some wonder about the world, no matter how horrifying it might be.
Over the past few years, Mortensen has proven to be one of the best actors in the business, and The Road is his masterpiece. He gives The Man a painful, unmistakable look of longing in his eyes as he sees the world for what it used to be and what he used to have, while also giving us a sense of how this man is physically falling apart. Every wince and limp tells a story, and makes the audience return to that central question, "why does he want to live?"
While Mortensen gives us the emotional core of The Road, Hillcoat amazingly creates this desolate, dying world in stark terms with the most frightening results you can imagine. Even if danger is not directly around the corner, Hillcoat has established a tone forcing the audience to be looking for it, and has you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation as every twig snaps, the leaves on the ground rustle and an ominous rumble comes from over the horizon.
If you don't find yourself fascinated by the emotional issues and bigger battle between hope and negativity, The Road will put you to sleep and leave you wanting more plot. However, it engages your brain and heart in ways that few movies can.
4 Waffles (Out of 4)
The Road is rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language.