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The Essential Guide to Bristol
11 January 2010
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The Road (15)

The ViewBristol Review

Review byMatthew Turner06/01/2010

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Beautifully shot, superbly written and powerfully moving, this is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the novel with an Oscar-worthy performance by Viggo Mortensen.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Hillcoat and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road stars Viggo Mortensen as an unnamed man travelling through a post-apocalyptic landscape with his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) after an unspecified catastrophe lays waste to the world. Flashbacks reveal that the man's wife (Charlize Theron) gave birth to their son shortly after the catastrophe first struck, so the boy has known no other life than the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

As they head south towards the coast, pushing their shopping trolley full of rags and whatever food they can find, the pair encounter several different people, including: a member (Garrett Dillahunt) of a marauding gang whose members eat flesh to survive; an old man (Robert Duvall); a gang of people who seem to be keeping prisoners in a big house; and an opportunistic thief (Michael K Williams). Meanwhile, the man tries to keep the idea of hope alive in the boy, knowing that his deteriorating health will mean that his son will soon have to fend for himself.

The Good
Joe Penhall's script is remarkably faithful to McCarthy's novel, keeping the dialogue to a minimum throughout and only making the smallest of changes. Similarly, Hillcoat's recreation of the bleak, ruined landscape is astonishing, thanks to Javier Aguirresarobe's striking cinematography and some incredible production design and effects work.

Viggo Mortensen delivers a powerfully intense, emotionally devastating performance in a role that will surely net him a Best Actor nomination come Oscar time. Kodi Smit-McPhee is equally good, particularly during a confrontation scene where you realise he's more aware of his reality than Mortensen had thought; his final scenes with Mortensen are also extremely moving.

The Great
There's also strong support from Duvall, Dillahunt (his weird little mouth twitch is both bizarre and unnerving) and Williams, whilst Guy Pearce and Molly Parker bring a rare note of hope to the film that is likely to reduce you to tears. In addition, there's a great score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Worth seeing?
The Road is a powerful, thought-provoking and frequently uncomfortable drama, but it's also one of the best films of the year, thanks to fantastic direction, stunning production design and a terrific performance by Viggo Mortensen. Highly recommended.

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The Road (15)
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