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THE ROAD: Post-Apocalyptic Thriller, Depressing, But Brilliant

Last night I had the privilege of enjoying a few movies at home with my wife, one of which was The Road. This 2009 film is based on the novel by Cormac MCarthy, and it stars Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McKee, Charlize Theron, and Robert Duvall. It tells the story of the post-apocalyptic struggle of a father and young son as they make their way in a gray world of death and decay in a constant search for food, shelter, and the avoidance of the few remaining humans, many of whom band together in gangs which seek to brutalize and eventually cannibalize those unfortunate enough to cross their path.

Apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic is one of the popular elements of many films in our time, no doubt reflecting our growing anxieties and fears related to social and cultural breakdown where the enemy then becomes humanity attacking itself as a far greater threat than anything external. This is a basic premise of many horror films, from Night of the Living Dead to The Mist. The breakdown of social order threatens us in many forms, from the very real possibility of nuclear conflict to devastation of the environment and possible global economic collapse. How would people survive in a world after such calamities, and just as important, would it be enough to merely survive or would acts of compassion still have relevance in such settings? These are the pressing moral questions portrayed in this bleak and depressing yet captivating film. The viewer is drawn into the story not only through the very real possibilities of a 21st century world facing its own post-apocalyptic challenges, but also from moving dramatic performances from everyone involved, as well as from the scenery of this film done not through CGI, but from real locations of devastation including Mount St. Helens and the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

This is a gripping moral drama, every bit as good as films like The Machinist, that can easily be missed by film fans as cinematic gems like this get lost amidst big budget studio productions. I would encourage those interested in pursuing this film further to read the review of my fellow Cinefantastique Online contributor, Peg Aloi. After that, go to wherever you rent your films to add something special to your Memorial Day weekend.

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There are 5 Comments to "THE ROAD: Post-Apocalyptic Thriller, Depressing, But Brilliant"

  • G Macabre says:

    Compared to the dreck that was 2012 or Day After Tomorrow, it was top notch, but I have to admit I was sorely disappointed in this one. Certainly it portrayed a bleak and desperate existence, but the characters seemed shallow,despite the over abundant flash backs. Not the the acting was lacking in any manner. The movie intentionally left a lot of things notable vague, and although I understand that was intentional to focus the story on the immediate, it created a lot of seeming minor plot holes in an already anemic plot that irked me throughout, to the point I really couldn’t “get into it”. Perhaps each will take something different from this movie, for me I took very little but disappointment.

  • admin says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. It’s interesting how people react differently to the same experiences, but that makes for diversity. Given that on your blog you embrace the macabre and death I thought the stark post-apocalyptic background for the film might make for more of a connection for you. Thanks again for your review and comments.

  • Moses says:

    Just watched “The Road” and all I can say is WOW!

    Truly a captivating film. This is what cinematic storytelling is support to be! Dramatic, heartbreaking, and a marvel.

    Acting: Excellent

    Storyline: Existential nihilistic truth with hints of humanistic optimism. I loved all the parts where they discovered the artifacts (Coke Cola, Mounted Deer’s Head, working piano, Canned fruit, alcohol, cigarettes) of the Old World and the different reactions the father and son had to them.

    Technical: Visual feast!! The way they shoot the whole film made the world so real I was afraid to look outside my window, just in case, and had to take a bath after watching the movie!!

    The scene where they found the people in the basement scared the hell out me. This was the Best Zombie Movie of the year!!

    And the scene with the little boy holding “One of the Good Guys” (Robert Duvall ) hand was heartwarming.

    The scene were they left the black brother naked and and shivering was messed up and brilliant in showing the harden heart of the father living daily in “FEAR”!!

    I’m obsessed with Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives and enjoyed this movie.

    “The Road” is in the same league as Apocalyptic classics like “Mad Max”, “I am Legend” and “Earth Abides”

    Keep highlight them all for us, John.

    Thanks

  • admin says:

    I’m glad to find another enthusiastic fan of this film. Thanks for your comments.

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