The Road is a 2009 movie based on the classic 2006 book by Cormac McCarthy. Now, the book is beloved by many, and has a cultish fan base all over the world. But how would it translate onto the big screen? It’s a very stream-of-consciousness book with a lot of description and not much plot. It doesn’t help that they had a relative newcomer helming the project: John Hillcoat, whose most well-known credentials before that were an Australian Western and a few late-period Depeche Mode videos. How did it go?
Pretty well, actually. It’s a bit of a chore to watch (I watched it in four 30-minute increments, but I’m assuming), but it has an excellent cast, great cinematography, phenomenal makeup, and while it doesn’t follow the book note-for-note, it’s really not a book that’s meant to be followed note-for-note. It’s full of dissonant and pointless stories, so it’s really easy to trim down and reorder to create a good viewing experience.
What I love most about the movie is that practically every shot looks like a painting. The makeup is heavy and grimy. The people in the movie don’t look quite real. Robert Duvall is pretty much unrecognizable as Ely, an old man who throws up fruit and mistakes children for angels. And the cinematography is great. Lots of very striking visuals and interesting shots.
It has a really solid narrative, too. It feels like a never-ending journey, but we do see a changing dynamic in the father and son’s relationship and uncover a little more about their backstory. Some people might be turned off by just how grim the movie is, but I think it works in the film’s favor. It could probably be a few scenes shorter, but whatever.
I’d give The Road a solid A. It’s really good, and I probably would never have seen it if it weren’t for a class I’m taking. If you can handle some real dark shit, I highly recommend it.