Last year I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in anticipation of the feature film, and I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it. Plotwise, this is a very linear and simple film, like the book, so it's easy to provide a non-spoiler review. It is very faithful to the book—a post-apocalyptic survival tale of a father and son making their way south through a devastated America in the hopes of finding a better life.
It’s interesting that the movie came out around the same time as 2012 and the two are completely at odds with one another. This is a very true-to-life rendition of a dying world. The film begins with the unnamed father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) pushing their shopping cart full of supplies down the broken roads of the United States, following their map to the coast. Though it’s never revealed what exactly happened, the geological upheavals and bleak climate point to some kind of asteroid impact or super-volcano.
The movie is stunning, and the palette is completely washed out of this ashen environment of devastated cities and burnt out forests. The only colours come from flashbacks Mortensen has of his life with his wife (played very well by Charlize Theron) and the events that led them to abandon their home and begin the journey south.
There are extremely dark moments that show the depravity of humanity faced with certain extinction. This isn't 2012 where everyone looks with optimism to a new beginning at the end. Humanity faces a daily struggle for survival against the hostile environment, famine and the barbarity of others they encounter on the road. It's as much about the struggle to survive, as keeping the will to live, faced with potentially horrific fates worse than starving to death.
Robert Duvall has a small, but very powerful part in the film, and both Mortensen and his son are compelling to watch as they find ways to continue to survive from day to day. As I said, the plot is very simple, but the themes are very complex, and sure to inspire thoughtful debate after the movie, much like McCarthy's other work, No Country for Old Men. I highly recommend this movie. It is quite disturbing on many levels, and some scenes will definitely stay with you afterwards. But if you like though-provoking stories, this is one of them.