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Jan 13, 2010

Fletch's Film Review: The Road

Look as hard as you like, but you'll never find The Road anywhere in the annals of great Christmas movies. Yet there we were, shunned from a sold-out screening of Sherlock Holmes, fresh from caroling and eating and opening the treasure trove of trinkets brought to us by Saint Nick. What better film could we have hoped for than a doom-soaked apocalyptic drama featuring starving people and the cannibals that love them?

Despite its relentless message of hope amidst the worst of times and regardless of the day we watched it, it was hard not to get bogged down by the dreariness of The Road. Does the apocalypse have to be such a downer?

We're presented with a world turned upside-down. Millions are dead (we have no idea how many are left). Fox Mulder's claim to "trust no one" becomes the only words to live by. The overwhelmingly depressing outlook causes some to give up on life without a fight. The sun appears to be burning/burned out, leaving the landscape looking perennially like the Pacific Northwest (where, not coincidentally, suicide rates are high). And yet a father and his boy travel south down the eastern seaboard in search of...well, something. They're not quite sure, only positive that whatever is there (proximity to the equator? the ocean?) is better than their starting point.

I wasn't enamored with The Road. It's one of those movies that you might respect as being "artful" or "poignant" or even something as simple as "well-acted" or "artfully crafted," as it is all of those things and more. However, not only is it not an entertaining film - it's up there with the last half-hour of Requiem for a Dream on the Rollicking Good Time Scale of Theatrical Enjoyment - it covers a whole heck of a lot of ground that we've seen a lot of lately, and from better films. The desolate landscapes of 28 Days/Weeks Later, the realization of a human-less existence in Children of Men, and the cannibal fears of god knows how many horror films (and Ethan Hawke ones). On top of that, the mysterious nature of the book has also been translated to the film, so there's no explanation given as to why the world is the way that it is, and it's so bare in details that the characters don't even have names. What's left to take away is the reinforcement of something we already know about - the powerful bond between parent and child - and the importance of determination even in the face of the worst of circumstances. Point taken.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"Darn tootin!"
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

P.S. - Has anyone ever gotten more mileage out of two cameos (in a single year) than Guy Pearce in 2009?


7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Road"

Big Mike Mendez said...

Guy Pearce had a better fifteen minutes in two movies than most people have in their careers. Good for him.

I agree that while it was a good movie, it was depressing as hell. I walked out of it with a friend and as we shuffled thru the mall, I just imagined everyone in it being cannibalized.

Fletch said...

"as we shuffled thru the mall, I just imagined everyone in it being cannibalized"

You make it sound as though that's not something you do normally...

Yeah, Guy picked a great couple of films to barely appear in. Better than cameoing in Leap Year and Transformers or something.

Nick said...

Pfft... every public venue I walk through, I imagine what would happen if there would be, right then, a zombie apocalypse (cannibalism... close enough).

Always stay on your toes... and make sure nobody eats them.

The Film Connoisseur said...

"Does the apocalypse have to be such a downer?"

A true apocalypse would probably be a bigger downer then this film ever was. Your comparison to the last moments of Requiem for a Dream made me want to watch this one even more!

Im a big fan of post apocaliptic movies...looking forward to it! Even though I know its a downer.

Daniel Getahun said...

I'm with you on this one. Nice enough movie, but a little what's-the-point-ish. As it is the book still sounds like it would be pretty freaky.

The Film Cynics said...

It just seemed to me that when they tried to suck the life out of the world, they sucked the heart out of the film. Kudos to the performers for their drab performances, but it kept the audience from really engaging with anyone. While we might have caught some quick glimpses of happier times, we really didn't get a chance to see what Boy and Man were struggling for.

Fletch said...

Conno - just for the record, I don't think The Road is anywhere near as good as Requiem. The comparison is only valid in terms of the way you feel tortured for these characters.

Steve - excellent point. They show perhaps one brief (really brief) glimpse of happier times, but that's about it. I guess they were just trying to keep the fire burning or whatever.