Welcome to "The Road", perhaps one of the most depressing yet impactful films one can see. Particularly since the post-apocalyptic genre tends to be filled to the brim with ridiculous over-the-top stories and hard to believe characters, its refreshing to find a film that can take the genre and jab straight into the artistic heart of what the genre can be. Superbly crafted and well written, "The Road" is a film that's going to make you question your own life and your own choices. Something that great film can, and probably, should do.
The world is a shit hole. Some untold event has driven the world into a wasteland where no animals and no plant life are able to survive. But like the cockroaches we are, humanity seems to drive on in different ways. A man and his son, about a decade or so after the end of the known world, are on their way south to avoid the cold and winter of living north. They search for food along the long road south and along with finding themselves cornered by cannibals or fighting off hunger and cold, the man and his son learn a lot about themselves and about life.
"The Road" is basically the opposite of most post-apocalyptic films. Driven by subtlety, great acting, and minimalistic styles of film making, "The Road" accomplishes many things as the audience is tortured by the devastation that has happened to the world and the many new (and relatively old) dangers that this man and son face in the dead world. This minimalistic approach makes many of the themes and acting a force to reckon with as we are hardly ever treated to more than grey shades of a dying world (that is counterbalanced beautifully with the vibrant orange and yellow glow of the man's flashbacks) and a starkly distant and mostly bare piano score.
The director and actors rarely use flair or charisma to tell their tale, but root their artistic choices in realism and negative/positive energies. Allowing the silence and space of the film to tell more things that dialogue or fancy camera shots could. Its these choices that make this film rather riveting to watch even more so than many of the other films of a similar tale could.
Of course, the highlight of the film has to go to Mr Mortensen and his able bodied performance as the man. Without the dialogue to back him on this one, he is able to fully pass along his pain and responsibility of going from a world of peace and love to one of desolation and fear with a single look into the sky or a moment of holding his son's hand. Even Smit-McPhee as the son handles his role quite well (children stars always have the toughest critics) and his chemistry with Viggo is thick in the film.
"The Road" is a fantastic and heavy film that deserves more praise than it probably has already received. To take a genre notoriously known for being cheesy and to give it that much weight and realism is pure talent for the feat. Definitely a film to own even for main-streamers instead of just you cult fans out there.
BONUS PRAISE: The supporting cast in this does just as well as our leads. I was amazed with Robert Duvall's impact for his brief time on screen and even the sudden, and much appreciated, appearance of Guy Pearce towards the end was damn well done. This film just scored on most every level.
Written By Matt Reifschneider