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Gavin Grades The Movies



The Road

the_road_poster02Novelist Cormac McCarthy seems to be a discovered treasure lately.  The 76-year-old wrote the novel that 2007 Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men” was based on and he has three more of his novels being turned into movies in the next two years.  He also wrote the novel “The Road” and if I were a betting man, I’d say he’s got a good shot at having another one of his babies win Best Picture again.  ”The Road” stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duval, Guy Pierce and a brand new 14-year-old Australian boy named Kodi Smit-McPhee.  This cast gives every inch of themselves to this story of survival in a post-Apocalyptic world.  But don’t be fooled.  This isn’t “2012″ or some other special effect extravaganza where the every-day guy does amazingly heroic things while falling in love again with an old flame.  This is bleak, dark, depressing and beautiful.  In fact most of the movie has no special effects at all.  Director John Hillcoat did a great job of choosing already desolate locations to film so that elaborate FX weren’t needed to distract you from the story.  Why did the world end?  How did it end?  When did it end?  These are all questions that aren’t answered and don’t need to be answered.  In fact, we don’t even know character’s names.  Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are simply credited as “The Dad” and “The Boy.”  That’s all you need to know because at the core of this movie is a simple struggle of a father and son surviving in an unfriendly, hostile world, all while being completely relatable to the perils, triumphs and heartbreak that live in the seasons of life.  The Academy should really pay attention to this movie.  I’m not a fan of children or actors that are in the movie for 5-10 minutes winning Oscars, but this may have to be an exception since Smit-McPhee and Duval give us performances that are gut wrenchingly sad.  The tone of the movie is reflected perfectly by Hillcoat’s directing.  The movie wasn’t shot in Black & White, but it might as well have been since it’s depleted of colors except for some choice flashbacks.  The flashbacks, by the way, are the only change from the novel, to which it stays very faithful.  The violence in the book is done tastefully and modestly in the film, although sometimes what’s not seen is far more grotesque and disturbing than what is seen.  (Not hard to figure out how some people are surviving)  It might get a little slow and plodding for some viewers that have a shorter attention span but sticking this movie out till the end is not just what you need to do for closure to this hopeless story, but it’s almost a gift to anyone who’s ever had to go through life, that’s symbolized here as “The Road.” The Road (Rated R) Gavin Grade: A+

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12/03/2009 9:42AM
The Road
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