www.cbc.ca:In a decade full of apocalyptic visions and survival tales, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has been among the most potent and moving. The 2006 novel, lovingly rendered in John Hillcoat’s new film, takes a well-worn sci-fi scenario and re-shapes it into a sombre meditation on morality, faith and the power of love.
Viggo Mortensen stars as McCarthy’s unnamed protagonist, a father making his way across the bleak, blasted landscape of a posthumous America, in the company of his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Pushing their few belongings in a shopping cart, sleeping under a tarpaulin and scrounging for food, the Man and Boy could be homeless figures in any modern big city.
That poignant parallel is just one of the ways The Road looks less like a futuristic fable and more like a picture of our present decay sharply accelerated. The abandoned houses, churches and gas stations that the two visit recall the derelict buildings that stud the U.S. rust belt. When father and son come upon an eerily empty suburb, I was reminded of documentary footage of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This is truly Apocalypse Now.
McCarthy and Hillcoat don’t specify what kind of disaster has laid waste to the world, but what remains is a bone-chilling hell. The charred skeletons of trees stand against sunless skies and a blanket of ash covers every exposed surface like grey snow. Earthquakes and fires alternate with drenching rains. Animal life has all but disappeared. Civilization, meanwhile, has devolved to the brutally primitive. Food is scarce – every shop and pantry has been raided. Savage gangs roam the highways, hunting and eating weaker human beings. The Man and Boy spend each day trying to fend off starvation and avoid the cannibals as they head south toward the coast – a vague, possibly pointless goal that has become, in the Boy’s mind, a promised land.
Have you had a chance to go see The Road? OBS would like to hear your reviews!