THE ROAD movie review

by Rick Grant
After a catastrophic global apocalypse, such as a series of mega-volcanoes or a massive asteroid strike, millions of people would be killed in the initial incident. Then millions more would die in the first few months.
The long-term aftermath would be grim, as ash and debris blocked out the sun. Plants and animals would die, wiping out the world’s food reserves. For the few survivors left, hope would dim as they searched for food. Some people would resort to cannibalism in the dark, lawless land.
This scenario chronicles the travels of a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son, (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggling to survive in this grim post-apocalyptic world, while keeping their morality and hope (fire inside) alive. They convince themselves they are the good guys.
In flashback sequences, viewers see the man’s (no name) pre-disaster life with his beautiful wife (Charlize Theron). They have their son during the onset of the catastrophe. She is immediately depressed about the future. The man wants to pack up and travel to the West Coast to see the devastation for himself, find food and shelter. The wife loses all hope and walks off into the cold to die. That was the only part of the script with which I found fault. Her maternal instinct would have overruled her suicidal urges.
This bleak scenario is based on Cormac McCarthy’s book and directed by John Hillcoat (Theron’s husband). The screenplay was deftly adapted by Joe Penhall with riveting narrative imagery. Hillcoat’s minimal film making style creates the soulless void of the devastated world in which the man and boy must now navigate.
Despite the man’s determination to hold on to his morality and hope, he gradually becomes paranoia of anyone they encounter. He has a revolver with two bullets, originally reserved for the two vagabonds to commit suicide.
However, the father-son duo is set upon by ruthless marauders hell bent to capture them for food. The man has to shoot one of the bad guys to escape. His son is his anchor. The boy reminds his dad of their pact to not lose the fire of right inside.
The scenario suggests that even in the face of such a catastrophic event, with few survivors, to move on beyond the starvation and cannibalism, the man and boy have chosen to find the impossible–a new life, however long that would be.
In other words, in this world, in order to survive, one must believe that hope springs eternal. If not, there is no use living. Many chose that path. The man and boy chose to make a journey of faith in the future.