Monday, November 30, 2009

The Road: The feel good movie of the year!!

No, I lie. This movie is so depressing that it makes Leaving Las Vegas look like The Sound of Music. It is quite difficult for me to review this film because I love the novel so very much. "The Road" has to be one of my top favorite books of all time. I have read it a couple of times, and bought copies of it for people. Most of those people said "What did you buy me this depressing shit for?" My Father had a hard time finishing the book. It made me fall in love with the work of Cormac McCarthy. I knew deep down that any film adaptation would just not hold up.

And I was right. Now, I don't hate the film at all. It is quite interesting and filled with really fantastic performances by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee and the Father and Son. Visually, the Director and Cinematographer captured the essence of McCarthy's book. This is a bleak wasteland- what one would imagine hell looks like. The violence and tension are there, particularly during the scene where the Father and Son uncover the horror hiding in the cellar, a section of the book that gave me heart palpitations.

What is missing is the heart of the novel. It is so hard to translate these feelings onto film. Director John Hillcoat certainly tries. We see the boy upset with his Father for not helping fellow travelers. We see the Father agonize over whether or not to kill his son. We see the boy praying, and not being quite sure what that means. And these scenes provoke emotion, but if you have read the book they just seem to fall flat, which is usually the trouble with screen adaptations. With few exceptions (Silence of the Lambs, the original TV Salem's Lot) the film never equals or surpasses the novel. I might have really loved this film had I never read the novel. As it is, I just have to say it was OK. I did enjoy hearing McCarthy's prose read by Mortensen, and Robert Duvall has an incredible, Oscar worthy cameo.

In my opinion The Road, both the film and the novel, qualify as horror. Some of the these images I will never forget. But do yourself a favor: read the book. I have a copy I could send you.....


Shoshanah Marohn said...

I wouldn't mind reading it!

Chris H said...

McCarthy is one of my absolute favorite writers. The Road is great and I spent most of the time reading it outside in the cold Boston winter.

I thought the film was a noble effort, but certainly screen adaptations of great books will always fall short of the original work. I don't think anyone could have handled it all as well as Hillcoat. Some tough themes to tackle without falling into melodrama.

The Man-Cave said...

I haven't read the book but you sold me on the film. Makes Leaving Las Vegas seem like the Sound of Music? Oh I gotta see this now.