The Road

By Kai-Arne Zimny

Sev­er­al years after a cat­a­stroph­ic event has destroyed all of America’s – and maybe the whole world’s – flo­ra and fau­na, a father (Vig­go Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are on a des­per­ate jour­ney through this bar­ren, cold, and gray new world. They are led by a vague shim­mer of hope that there might still be a bet­ter place some­where. “We have to keep car­ry­ing the fire,” the father tries to moti­vate his young son, who has seen real plants and ani­mals only in his ragged pic­ture book. Here and there, the mor­bid silent soli­tude is dis­turbed by some­thing far worse – bands of sur­viv­ing humans, just as much on the verge of star­va­tion as father and son and, to make things worse, ready and will­ing to do what­ev­er it takes to survive.

The Road (2009) pho­to cred­it: Andrés Fevri­er


The movie The Road (2009) is based on the nov­el of the same name by Amer­i­can author Cor­mac McCarthy (who also wrote No Coun­try for Old Men). Among sev­er­al oth­er hon­ors, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. But does an award-win­ning nov­el trans­late into a good movie? Although the movie received over­all pos­i­tive reviews (Time Mag­a­zine called it the “best nov­el of the decade”), some film crit­ics dis­agree, crit­i­ciz­ing that the movie lacks the dis­turb­ing pow­er of the nov­el. As some­one who has not read the nov­el, I still find the movie quite dis­tress­ing and can tell you that it is well worth watching.

In all its painful real­ism, The Road is a one-of-a-kind end time movie that is not ground­ed in a stark fas­ci­na­tion with adven­ture. At no point did I think, “Well, the world has end­ed but that is actu­al­ly real­ly cool!” Instead, the movie has a pow­er­ful, depress­ing, stom­ach-turn­ing effect. The use of col­or is amaz­ing as are the flash­backs grant­i­ng us a peek into the man’s pre-apoc­a­lyp­tic life with his wife (Char­l­ize Theron). Also, the movie resists the temp­ta­tion of manip­u­lat­ing its audi­ence into feel­ing over­ly attached to the main char­ac­ters. Father and son remain rather dis­tant and name­less, yet we can’t help feel­ing some­thing – a lot, actually.

The movie left me with strange, uncan­ny, and uncom­fort­able, feel­ings – some­thing I con­sid­er good for a movie of that genre. But also grate­ful, at least the first cou­ple of times I went to the fridge after hav­ing seen it. “Wow, I’m glad you’re here!” I word­less­ly mouthed to the food.

I can’t give any rec­om­men­da­tions about whether you should read the nov­el before watch­ing the movie, but here you can take a look at the trail­er and decide for your­self. Don’t let the pre­sen­ta­tion fool you into believ­ing The Road is an action movie. It absolute­ly isn’t.

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