FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “The Road,” which stars Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, A History of Violence), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, ParaNorman), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus), Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Jack Reacher), Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3, Memento), and Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Snitch). In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son travel south in search for something that could restore their hope in the world. Danger and violence laden their path, however, and it will take all of their strength to get to their destination.
Being written by the guy behind “No Country for Old Men,” this film piqued my interest. In fact, everything about this movie seemed interesting, from the great cast to the post-apocalyptic feel that hasn’t run out of gas in the filmmaking business for me. A bonus was how it got relatively good reviews from a majority of critics, so why not try it out? I will tell you that, after viewing it, this release takes a lot to digest. Usually in a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, films take two different routes, choosing either unrelenting gruesomeness or light blood with a twist of soft action. This one chose gruesomeness, and my gosh, was it difficult to watch at times. Here we have a man and his child, racing to get “south” in hopes that there will be a salvation of some sort; something that will relieve them of their troubles and turmoil. The man is completely broken, trying to keep it together for his son’s sake, and his teachings aren’t what a modern person would want for their kid. It’s terrible to see the hardships they endure, but even with that in mind, I must say that I enjoyed this experience. It’s earthy cinematography, enriching score, and wonderful use of character development are what makes this something worth watching; not as brilliant as “No Country for Old Men,” but enough to place it over your typical post-apocalyptic feature. The performances in this were great. It’s hard to find Viggo Mortensen in any film nowadays, but I believe that he picked the right project. He brought a great tenacity to his role and exhibited a shattered being that we could only pity in the world he is in. Kodi Smit-McPhee did a really good job as his son, too. His chemistry with Mortensen kept the character from going overboard, and I liked the contrast between the two. Other miscellaneous actors, such as Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, and Guy Pearce, did incredible jobs with what they were given. Although they didn’t have much of a role, their parts mattered most in furthering the story as well as the main characters. Speaking of the figures, I thought the development of them in this release was well done. Like I stated before, their chemistry is what holds this movie together, and even when they are alone they shine. Mortensen plays the best character to study. The director’s use of flashbacks to portray his once golden life could bring a saddened heart to anyone when they jump back to the present, in which Mortensen tries to keep himself from remembering. It’s dark, depressing, and gritty; aspects not many people would appreciate in cinema. There’s a certain extent for me. It’s hard for me to watch a film like “Room,” but when something like this comes along, I find a good balance in it; especially when there’s some sort of resolution to it as well as some lighthearted moments along the way. Having a release pound you with depressing after depressing moment doesn’t make it good. It’s what the characters do in spite of these moments that fleshes out a great tale. The cinematography in this, while filled with dull grays and blacks, works masterfully when weaving this plot. I took a lot from just looking at the screen, and the contrast between the bold colors of flashbacks and the darkness of the present go hand-in-hand beautifully. They really shape how low humanity has sunk, and how absent God is of the earth. Throughout this movie, I could name of many highs and quite a bit of lows. There are certain scenes in this that will make you want to throw up or give you chills, especially when Mortensen and his son stumble upon a cellar. It was hard to keep my composure during these moments; it’s not like I will dock the film serious points for it, however. It is all a matter of preference, but at the end of the day you have to understand that these bone-chilling sequences are what make for its gritty ambience. If there was one real problem I could dig up from this, it would be how the story doesn’t hold much weight outside of the characters. It’s two figures getting from point A to point B without being harmed; we are just along for the view of this world. I didn’t despise this fact, because I do love the fleshing out of characters, but I did take notice. There is not a whole lot to gain out of this experience other than studying the figures, and that is what kills it the most. Anything else I could think of would be a minor nitpick. Overall, this release has great tenacity, bringing grittiness and rich character study to the table. I enjoyed the cinematography and the suspenseful score, but the plot itself falls short of becoming epic. FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: