Review: ‘The Road’ – I feel bad for Cormac McCarthy

Movie: The Road * Official Site In Theaters: Nov. 25, 2009
Runtime: 111 minutes Directed by: John Hillcoat
MPAA Rating: R for some violence, disturbing images and language 4 Geckos Gecko Rating:


I feel bad for Cormac McCarthy, I really do. I don’t know how long it took him to write the book on which "The Road" is based, but any amount of time with all of that death and desperation rolling around inside your head is just tragic.

"The Road" is about a man (Viggo Mortensen) traveling across the country with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) after an apocalyptic event. I’m guessing it’s a nuclear war, but they don’t really say in the movie and I haven’t read the book. Anyone who’s read the book, feel free to add notes in the comments below.

The boy was born on the night the event occurred, and after a few years, his mother (Charlize Theron) can’t take it anymore and wanders off into the night to die. Meanwhile the dad refuses to give up, and he and his son set off on a journey to "the coast," where they’re sure that things will be better.

More after the jump… 

On the way, every sort of unspeakable thing happens, and even if you don’t have kids, it’s hard to think of a kid seeing all of that horror – cannibalism, scrounging for food, running for their lives, illness, death and destruction. All of this is shown in fairly graphic detail, so if you’re at all squeamish about this stuff, don’t see this movie. And I mean never see this movie, even if you happen across it on TV at some point in the future. It will be hard to erase the images you see in the movie.

And apparently, a nuclear war – or whatever it is – takes out the sun and causes it to rain and be eerie gray all the time. So you’ve got all the aforementioned mayhem amidst a rainy sky and abandoned towns and homes that have been trashed beyond hope. It’s like "Life After People," only there’s still a few people around struggling to survive.

But back to Cormac McCarthy. If you’re writing or making a movie about zombies or aliens or some other thriller-type material, it’s not really likely that we’ll ever see anything like that in our lives. But a nuclear war could, in fact, actually happen. We don’t like to think about it, but let’s face it, the possibility is out there.

That’s why I feel bad for McCarthy. He had to think about what it would be like if such an event happened, and it’s not pretty. It’s dire and bleak.

"The Road" is really well done, and Viggo Mortensen turns in his usual "cut to the core" performance. Clearly, he’s not into taking lighthearted roles, but at some point, I hope he does a romantic comedy or something a little lighter than "The Road," "Eastern Promises," or "A History of Violence."

Then again, maybe Mortensen and McCarthy are like brothers separated at birth. Some artists are just born to do the heavy stuff.








One response to “Review: ‘The Road’ – I feel bad for Cormac McCarthy”

  1. […] ‘The Book of Eli’ was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 15, 2010, and is it just me, or is there a rash of apocalyptic movies out lately? I’m still trying to recover from ‘The Road’! […]

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