The Road Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 7:32 pm,

However, one thing I thought would certainly irk me were the usual Hollywood “liberties” taken with every book-to-film translation. In this instance, I predicted that the role of The Wife would be fattened up in order to lure an actress of Charlize Theron’s caliber to the part. Well, on the one hand I was right: the role is fattened up for the movie, but it’s all meat on the bones, no blubber. And I was certainly surprised by THAT.

the road the mom suicide thoughts The Road Review

What screenwriter Joe Penhall does so brilliantly in his adaptation is to set up a juxtaposition between Man and Wife over the fate of The Boy. Mom believes that what’s best is for the three of them to end it together, peacefully, painlessly, hopefully bound for a better place. Dad, however, can’t give in and is willing to drag them all (literally) across the plains of hell if it means his son’s survival for even a day. In her short moments onscreen, Theron makes a fierce and persuasive argument for The Wife’s point of view, often through her hollowed eyes, and rigid frown, or in her soul-torn pleas to The Man to ‘do the right thing.’

It’s an element of the story that wasn’t as pronounced in McCarthy’s book, and I believe it adds a fantastic dimension to the film. Comparing the philosophies of Man and Wife forces you to constantly wonder and question what is truly best for this child. When The Man and Boy discover the Coca-Cola side of life – when they have smiles on their faces as they share a red can of bubbly, you think to yourself, “A perfect reason to stay alive.” But, when Man and Boy discover a cellar full of filthy, half-eaten prisoners and hear hungry cannibals bearing down on them, you wonder if The Wife didn’t have the right idea – or worse yet, you question what you would do. Whenever The Boy has to witness another horror, you wonder what life he can possibly have – the very question The Wife asked of The Man.

the road man and boy embrace The Road Review

What I especially love about this interpretation of The Road is that it suspends the grand judgment of whether The Man is right or wrong for trying to keep his Boy alive. By the end, we can only hope – never know, just hope -  that parent has done the right things for child along the way – and isn’t that really the most our parents can ever hope for us, or that we can ever hope for our kids?

The fact that I’m left with that question after seeing this film lets me know The Road has done its job and honored its source material. I’ll go so far as to say the film deserves consideration come awards season this winter, and I feel no qualms about saying so. It’s a powerful film, a great accomplishment by cast and crew and you shouldn’t miss it. I think even Mr. McCarthy can be proud of this one.

The Road will be in theaters on November 25, 2009.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. It sickens me that this film has such a limited release. I in no way live in the middle of no where and the closest place that is showing this film is 6-7hrs away. I’m a huge McCarthy fan and have been waiting a very very long time for this date. Needless to say I’m in puppy-kicking mode because of this and I have to honestly say the beginning of my holiday break has been ruined- yes I’m an avid movie-goer.

    In the current days of mediocre gfx driven crapfest movies, this one slips in but gets suffocated with mountains of seasonal screen garbage. Our society is so backwards.

  2. In the UK there has been nothing in the form of advertising for this movie, I probably wouldnt have even heard of it if it wasnt for this site!
    It is crazy that this is having such limited release, it goes to show, when absolute dross like TF2 is on every screen in the world!

  3. This movie has been on my radar for a while now. Loved the book as well as the Coen brothers adaptation of No Country. The post-apocalyptic setting is intriguing and a step outside ordinary movie boundaries. However I was hesitant on seeing it because I read numerous reviews stating that it was a great
    movie but It couldn’t compare to the book. After reading this review I am really considering catching it soon. All the actors/actress seem pretty on point here but honestly I’m not the biggest Viggo fan. Of course he was great in LOTR but I don’t think hes done that much good stuff after that. Anyways I’m more excited to see Guy Pearce in his “unrecognizable” role since I think hes a superb actor.

  4. Fenix

    have you seen A History Of Violence or Eastern Promises? Amazing films!

  5. just got back from seeing the road. and it was amazing. it was just like the book. i couldnt help but get choked up. its a shame as to the limited release of this picture. i was thinking why? and all i could think of was how were they going to market this – its obviously not your typical feel good, or big budget end of the world like 2012, but im still affected by it – and whether you have any religious based beliefs or feel anything spiritual – you will at least “feel” the love between the father and the son and how deep seeded it is. i know that this will prob not happen, but either duvall or mortenson should get an academy nod for this picture. i am a die hard scifi fantasy adventure dude, but i beg you – GO SEE THIS MOVIE. i know what i will be thankful for tomorrow – my two daughters, my wife and my family and friends and the country that i live in. thats my spiel.

  6. It sounds like an interesting movie, but I’m kinda worried I’m gonna leave the theater feeling bad and depressed. Are these concerns valid?

  7. I just found out that The Road will not be playing in my state. Does anyone know if the studios are doing one of those ridiculous marketing ploys where you have to email them to get the movie to your town, or am I just going to have to wait for it to come to DVD?

    I was really looking forward to seeing this movie…

  8. @Vincent

    No. This is just one of those films that didn’t get a super-wide distribution because they don’t think it has mass appeal and will make that much at the box office.

    Don’t fret, there’s always DVD/Blu-ray, folks!


  9. DrSamBecket

    I have heard of both of those movies are good but I haven’t gotten around to seeing them. They both are a little bit darker and more mature than what I’m used to seeing him in so maybe I was a little put off by them. Still doesn’t mean they are bad movies so I will def check them out thanks for the comment!

  10. Saw this today,,,
    You end up leaving the theater with the fear that were headed toward this future,,,

    The film was powerfully dismal, yet had a very emtional ending that gave you some hope…

    Amazing performances,,,,

  11. I read the book and that’s the only reason I won’t be seeing the movie. I just knew when they pushed the release date back and added all the scenes that are in the trailer and not in the book (at least half) that it was just too dismal for wide release.

    Looks like after the additional re-writes and re-shoots it’s still too depressing. In fact, the ‘cellar’ scene (in the book) really creeped me out.

    (And I really wanted to see Viggo, Duvall, and Charlize in the same film!)

  12. So JessSayin your not going to see the film because its more depressing then the book?
    I heard the book was pretty bad,,,

  13. Hey Kofi, can you explain the reason some of the humans were missing their thumbs?

  14. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for a reason, it was BEAUTIFULLY written. In spite of that, it was THE most depressing piece of literature I’ve EVER read.

    OrangeRush2112 wrote above, “you will at least “feel” the love between the father and the son and how deep seeded it is”
    -My biggest gripe with the book was the lack of affection spoken or physical between the father and son. Maybe that was addressed in the film as Viggo is a father himself.

    To each his own. It seems there are just as many who loved it as didn’t.

  15. I shouldn’t have typed the book is bad, what I meant was that it was super depressing.
    (Bad choice of words on my part)

    There was a lot of affection between the two characters in the film. I don’t think it would have worked any other way…
    It was clear to me that the kid was learning how to be a caring person as his father was turning into a ruthless person. Interesting twist there toward the end.

  16. i cant wait to see this film and the brothers film. im so tired of the action films with no story, just action action. i wish more films were taken seriouse with writers who actually make good stories and characters,and then action. im ready for movies to be thought about before just rushing to make slop. we need well though films.

  17. i think they should make steve a;yens the loch into a films,and remake the creature from the black lagoon. i also cant wait for the wolfman,and splice,and a remake to resident evil with a director like the guy who done the road,or someone like chris nolan to make it.

  18. The story is really just an extreme metaphor for parenting.

    Parents want their kids to be good people.

    Parents are also scared of that the big bad world out there will harm their children.

    Parents act in crazy ways to protect their children but want their children to always act sane.

    Children often hold their parents (for better or worse) to the “practice what you preach, papa” creed. Often to the annoyance and then reluctant acquiescence of the parent.

    Parenting: It ain’t an easy job, folks…

  19. @Kofi

    I have a feeling that when you get there you’re going to do a fine job, bro. :-)


  20. The book stinks, there’s not a decent bit of dialogue in it, there are few encounters, and in the trailer there are more encounters than take place in the ENTIRE book. The movie isn’t playing here, either. John Shirley’s The Traveler series is FAR better than The Road as far as post-apocalypse fiction goes.
    A metaphor for parenting it may be, but will be lost on today’s parents as they are children themselves. Selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered snarky little kids.
    The only reason The Road won a Pulitzer Prize and was a NYT #1 bestseller is that if immediately followed NCfOM and its Oscar–the first paperback edition featured “Now a major motion picture with Viggo Mortensen!” and debuted at #1 before anyone had even read it, editor OR critic.
    It it had played here, at the local 12-plex, I would have wasted nine-fifty on it–which I can’t afford. Just as well they chose a limited release. Even if it were faithfuly adapted, it would be a short, mostly silent, poorly-executed, substandard excuse for a film.

    • You are a total and utter philistine for so many reasons. The Road has been much revered and lauded since its publication, three years before the film’s release. The book is magnificently written and widely regarded as one of the greatest American novels of all time; the film, simply, a masterpiece. Of course, all of this is subjective, but when popular opinion is so overwhelmingly contrary to your own, you must begin to question whether you have any idea what you are talking about. And you don’t.

  21. Gil James Bavel, you sound a tad biased,,, ;-)

    Good point there Kofi on the parenting aspect,,,
    I so can’t wait to never have kids!!!

  22. Having read the book last year, I knew the movie was going to be great when I first the the initial scenes from the trailer. Before I saw the title of the film, I told my wife, “They made a movie of “The Road”. Hillcoat totally nailed the look and feel of the novel. It’s hard to believe this is his first directorial feature of note.

    My take on the story was more along the lines of maintaining your integrity and morales while all around you have lost theirs. I really can’t see anyone leaving this movie without feeling something, be it disgust, depression, revulsion, or dare I say, hope?

    Great art, whether literature or cinema, makes you FEEL something. In this respect, “The Road” is an unqualified success. In a time when most major motion pictures make little to no impression upon me, “The Road” totally got under my skin and ripped me apart inside. No greater compliment for a work of art can be offered.

  23. I loved this movie. It was depressing and dark, but the haunting beauty of the acting, story, cinematography – everything – made it worth it. I stood staring at the screen for like 10 minutes afterwards, thinking about it.

    Very true – it does make the audience (at least, this audience member) “what would I do in that situation?”


  24. I have to admit that the book was horribly depressing. It was a beautiful book, but I had to take breaks in the middle of reading it because it would bring me down so much. It was also kind of difficult to read since (in the version I read) the dialouge was not marked as dialouge. It had no quotations or punctuation marks making it very difficult to get through the book knowing if anything had been really “said” and not just “thought.” Apart from the scenes with The Man’s wife, the movie was a spot on depiction of the book.

  25. i could not stand that whiny boy, i mean come on i figure he would be a lot tougher…. kid made me quite angry

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