04 December 2009

Review: The Road

Genre: Drama (Post-Apocalyptic)

I took the time to read, before seeing this film, the source material from which it was derived: Cormac McCarthy's desolate and sparse book of the same title. Unsurprisingly, when greeting the film and discovering that it's dedication to the plot of the original was almost entirely true, I found the same flaws that deterred the novel have returned to deter the film from its fullest expression. The extreme sparity with which Mr. McCarthy wrote his words is manifested as the extreme sparity with which director John Hillcoat and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe describe their images: vast stipplings of bare descriptions, which instead of cohering with the bareness of the protagonists' lives undercut the inner vibrancies that they actively and knowingly display: inner monologues and complexities and dreams that defy the nothingness that surrounds them and quite literalize take that nothing into swoons of alchemical grace. Of course, such words are my own (potentially overly) Romantic views of their lives, but such views, however Romantic, cannot dispoil their essential perspicacities to truth: Man and boy march together through a barren wilderness of civilization disbarred but maintain within themselves "the fire" that is inextricably designed to foil the exteriors and provide an ever deepening inlet into their minds which die not - not even in the end. While neither medium truly captures that dichotomous effect (though the book does the better or the two for the film's bizarre decisions about color and structure), actors Mr. Mortensen and Mr. Duvall do it well. Of course, a part built for an actor like Mr. Mortensen, Man finds that humanity beyond strictured savagery that mimics the missed crux of the film in his lead; and Mr. Duvall, though a blip in the road, turns in a performance that is quite lingering nevertheless (in a good way). Of all involved in the film - save perhaps the film's costume-designer - they two are the only that truly deserve any mention here. For the others, I just leave the film as a whole the

Grade: C+ - a tough and cushionless morality tale need not be a rote diagnostic; observe Doubt (2008) and see.

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