By Varun Torka
(Based on the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy)
Expect no music here. No self-pitying jokes, no philosophical banter. And not even a sliver of hope. The Road is a different kind of movie. It is not only among the coolest movies to be made over the past couple of decades, but also one of the most depressing. The storyline follows a father (the Man) and his son (the Child), as they traverse a barren and disparate post-apocalyptic world, where the aim of life has been reduced to just survival. On their way they meet different people – some dangerous, some helpless – and simple things become treasures. Their experiences make you respect your comfortable life in new ways. As self-protection becomes key, the line between good and bad, already so uncertain, begins to blur.
The film stays true to the book however, and can be constructed as a sequence of different incidents that each play their part in forming a whole. Remember that The Road is not about how the apocalypse occurs, or even about how people react to it, but rather how adaptation to this new landscape is automatic. The Road is about the new dimensions of a particular father-son relationship, the inner journey of a pragmatic man who rediscovers parameters of morality from a child, and the altered meanings and significance of familiar situations and rituals (such as eating around a campfire). The film does lack pace, perhaps purposely, in order to portray a static world, with no hope of redemption.
Viggo Mortensen (of Aragorn fame) steals the show as the father trying to preserve his son’s innocence as they wander through an increasingly depraved world. The slow progression of the film and the monotony of the landscape may put off some viewers – but a powerful performance by Mortenson makes The Road a must-watch.