The Road 15 (2009)
Dir: John Hillcoat; Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron
I can’t say I enjoyed this film. The end of the world isn’t on the Top Ten Topics of Enjoyable Conversation, but films and entertainment are a broad church and I tend to worship at the bleak, painful altar. Having said that, the film is not a depressing experience. Following the story of Man and Boy as they wander through a post-apocalyptic world trying to survive could be pretty awful, but The Road has humanity at its heart. This is humanity at both ends of the spectrum – what can happen to people when all hope is gone, from those who keep people starving in their basement so they have a ready supply of fresh meat to those who will offer some of their limited food supply to an old man. I’m not saying a film has to have light to complement the considerable shade but it’s welcome.
The film is also saved from being depressing because it is beautifully crafted piece of work. The colourless landscapes punctuated by forest fires or blood are extremely affecting. Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are great as the Father and Son, driving to stay alive. The ‘happy’ ending works because it’s not truthfully a happy ending. Everybody is still going to die, it’s just a question of when. Oh no, maybe it is depressing after all…