Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Road

I read McCarthy's novel THE ROAD when it came out and when I heard it had been optioned I was not at all surprised though I was concerned as many are with the upcoming adaptation of BLOOD MERIDIAN. The problem seems to rest with the theory some books simply are not meant to be put to film and I was of the mind THE ROAD was one of them. Yes, there is enough of a story to warrant such a project but even with a narrative much of the feel and significance of the work is lost and this is where John Hillcoat's film pretty much fails. Viggo Mortensen does his best to carry it but never manages to bring forth the allegorical import of his character and sadly Kodi Smit-McPhee is so bloody annoying you spend most of the 112 minutes waiting for a band of marauders to grab him. I did not remember the character being this way in the novel. In fact, there were many things in this film I did not recall in the book.
First off, I don't recall Cormac using brand names and if I'm right about this the blantant product placements will drive most folks right around the bend. The second major issue has to do with starvation. I've gone days without food and the last thing I'll do if stuff my face the second I come across the elusive substance for the simple reason I'll promptly throw it all back up. There is one scene involving Robert Duvall which MAY have been an attempt to deal with the subject and if this is the case it was poorly executed as he appears to merely not have the strength to swallow hence the fruit coctail (Del Monte no less and if they paid to have their good plugged here I imagine some genius got his ass canned!-pun intended) dribbles from his mouth. I should take a second to discuss's a small but important role and once again I suspect the metaphor he presents will be lost on most, just the same he may get another Oscar nod for the role. Now, for the most important problem I had with THE ROAD is it never struck me as a zombie story when I was reading it but the film comes off as one in spades. One scene involving a field is lifted straight from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with a basement scene from DAWN OF THE DEAD right on it's heels. If this is a homage to Romero or not is open to debate but the similarities are unmistakable.
With all of this said I still think THE ROAD is worth seeing. There is enough substance there to validate the effort and the acting is superb with some great visuals but I will be shockingly surprised if it has any commercial success which brings us to my final pointm the ending. For the life of me I do not remember the novel closing the way the film does. Perhaps I should have read it again before seeing the movie though I imagine if I had I'd be on a serious rant right now. The story is one where we know there is no true happy ending in sight, the material forbids it and when we are given such in the film it makes you want to hurl your Big-Gulp and popcorn at the friggin' screen! Perhaps the worst sin of all if I left the theatre indifferent which is not what I expected.Still, grab the DVD and judge for yourself and let us all say a prayer for Tom Field. May he please dear Lord do a better job with BLOOD MERIDIAN than Hillcoat, who must me commended for trying to do the near impossible, did with THE ROAD.


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