The Road. Can I impersonate a self-important reality show contestant and say this film is a journey and a half, and a rough one to try and go alone. If a horror movie is a genre that you donâ€™t want to experience alone, I recommend that someone be with you for this one so you can hug them tightly, and be comforted that humanity is still present in the reality outside of this film.
An adaptation from a Cormac McCarthy novel (author of another amazing novel and film adaptation No Country for Old Men) the Road follows a father (Viggo Mortensen in a challenging role) and his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they walk across country, walking to the coast in hopes of finding a better existence. Whilst the coast represents water, and fresh breezy air; that is all there is. They arenâ€™t going to a known source of food; from what we get told at the beginning of the film, no animals survived, nor did crops.
Whatever has turned the land into ash, whatever has caused the land to crumple, centuries old trees crashing to the earth and shake with intermittent earthquakes is never explained. It just turns the landscape into a hopeless, desperate and desolate existence. It removes most semblances of humanity.
Needless to say, this changes, and remarkably strengthens the bond that the Man and his son have. The boy still wants to help out others like them, though the man jaded by experiences with looters, and the humans that have turned to savage cannibalism in order to survive protects his son at all costs, and errs on the side of avoiding anyone else, trusting only his family. Via flashbacks to before the boy was born, we meet the mother, played by Charlize Theron. It is not an especially happy, or idyllic time; just honest and raw as we witness the reluctant childbirth, to later on when living becomes existing, when man and wife have run out of things to say. It is the hardest thing to watch; when someone has given up on life.
It is completely plausible here, and thatâ€™s what makes it all the more harrowing and confronting to watch.
What I touched upon at the start was not embellishing, the whole world, post calamity or crisis is hard to experience. Youâ€™re not just watching it, but you are immersed in it, completely hopeless. In other post apocalyptic films, there were signs of humanity there, shops to loot, luxuries to experience, mannequins to talk to (Iâ€™m talking to you, Will Smith)
We can expect this from Viggo, but from newcomer (and Australian born!) Kodi – this is a revelation. An absolutely heartbreaking, brutally raw and hard performance to watch. One that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, but most likely won’t watch again. For all the right reasons.