The Road provides audiences with a mental journey

Jared Widman (’10)/ Eastside Staff

Characters from The Road share a heartfelt moment that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.
Characters from The Road share a heartfelt moment that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I waded through the hundreds of people following each other like lemmings off of the mass-marketed 2012 cliff, I pondered about how another movie would fare.  The movie that I was about to see also describes a possible apocalypse, but it was certainly no action-thriller with excessive CGI and little plot to speak of.  The movie I had put my seven dollars and twenty-five cents down for was called The Road, and it was the tale of a father and son trekking their way down south to the coast in a post apocalyptic world with no food, and no hope.

In The Road, directed by John Hillcoat and based on a book written by Cormac McCarthy, the world is dying.  There are constant earthquakes. Crops and plants have stopped growing, and in an ecosystem without autotrophs, all of the animals have died off as well.  The world is perpetually cloudy.  While it is never mentioned how this came to be, one can assume by the characters in the movie that it is humankind’s fault.  Some survivors are nomads, living off bugs and what they can salvage, just trying to make it to the next day.  Gangs who have resorted to cannabalism for survival patrol the main roads. They are known only as the “bad men.”

As the man and his son travel to the coast, they encounter some nomads and some gangs, and fight for their lives every day.  Food is everything.  The boy has never been alive on a functional planet with laws and rules. Living in such a barbarian world, he struggles to figure out what exactly makes a man “bad,” and how he can fulfill his father’s wish that he carry the light in such a dark world.

The movie itself was beautiful in a way even the enormously budgeted CGI graphics of 2012 could never hope to be.  The art direction was absolutely terrific.  Every shot emphasized just how bleak and disastrous this new world is.  The cinematography was superb.  There was never a dull moment, you could feel the characters fighting for survival at any given moment.

Speaking of characters, I neglected to mention the best thing about this film – the acting.  Viggo Mortensen gives a spectacular performance as the Father; he gives much deserved sympathy to a character that has no thought in his mind but to uphold the dignity and survival of himself and his son.  Kodi Smit-McPhee gives a stellar performance for his age as the Boy.  Also of note is an absolutely phenomenal guest performance by Robert Duvall as a dying old man.  There is so much to say about these magnificent performances that I have trouble describing them in words. One must see the movie to understand, but believe me when I say every actor in this movie is one hundred percent believable as their character.

Overall, this movie is a must-see.  It is an attempt to reach the very core of human emotions and behaviors, and it achieves that and more.  As a warning: this is a very depressing movie. It is not wise that spectators see this in a good mood, as it will put them in a bad one.  However, if they start watching this movie in a neutral mood, the ending, though just as depressing as the rest of the movie, will put a smile on the audience members’ faces.  The Road, in that respect, is like a classic Greek tragedy: a cathartic, cleansing experience.  Just knowing that the movie just seen was that spectacular makes it worthwhile.  Also knowing that nothing happening in the movie will ever likely happen to you is a relieving experience as well. The Road is a fantastic movie with a great script, terrific actors, and fantastic art design, but it is probably too depressing for mainstream audiences.

4 out of 5.

Rating System:

1: Is Plan 9 From Outer Space

2: I did not like it.

3: I liked it.

4: I loved it. 

5: Score of the Gods