The Road – DVD Review

The Road, based off the Pulitzer Prize winning novel written by Cormac McCarthy, is a film that really shouldn’t be missed. It’s a fantastic showcase of great film-making and proof that some books transfer well to the silver screen (if given the right hands).

The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Man and Boy respectively. Following the template set by the book, the characters remain nameless, but the two mentioned above are father and son.

The movie cuts between past and present, with Man and Boy making a journey south in the dreary present day, where the world has fallen, and man is barely holding on to any shred of hope. Most in the world have become scavengers, doing anything they can to survive from day to day including murdering strangers they come across in order to steal their goods and/or feed off their flesh. Man tries to teach Boy that while one must do what is needed in order to survive, holding onto your humanity is just as important. Without it, you’re already dead.

The flashbacks show the story of what happened to Man and his wife, and what put Man and Boy into the traveling south situation they find themselves in during present times. The flashbacks are very well done, and Theron plays her role of the wife perfectly. One of the best parts about the film is the way that it stands by not filling in all the blanks. We’re not fully aware of how society fell, or how the apocalypse happened, only that it did, and these characters need to move forward.

It’s a bleak world, and one that comes across eerily beautiful thanks to the great visuals put forth by the film’s cinematographer, Javier Aguirresarobe, and the work done by Hillcoat. The sense of hopelessness seeps into the viewers mind, and really allows you to understand that this type of situation is entirely possible, and the reality faced by the protagonists in this film are scarily spot-on to how things would likely come to be if such an event were to happen in our time. It’s a brilliant concept executed quite well, however, that the film does have some significant shortcomings.

One of the major things that usually lacks from a book to film transfer is the internal dialogue of characters, and their constant thought process on the world and their surroundings. It’s something that sometimes is attempted, and sometimes it even works; but most of the time the thoughts are replaced by visual actions, or less-impactful dialogue. For the most part credit must be given to both Director John Hillcoat, and writer Joe Penhall for the job they do bringing McCarthy’s written word to the screen, as many moments of silence shared between characters say more than any explanatory dialogue could have hoped to achieve.

One of the more brilliant scenes in the film is actually one of the first. We witness Man waking up beside his wife only to notice a light emanating from outside their bedroom window. We aren’t shown what Man is witnessing, but his reaction of quickly rushing to the bathroom and filling the sink and bathtub with water, tell us that the situation outside is dire.

The Road may not be a masterpiece but it comes awfully close.

The Road is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks as depressing as it’s intended to be. The gritty nature of the film comes through and the melancholic colors help set the tone for the entire film. The sound (5.1 Dolby Digital) comes through as well as you want it. There’s nothing that will take you out of the film from either department.

Deleted Scenes – There are five scenes here to be looked at, with one of them being an extended scene. There was a great deal of talk about scenes that were cut from the film for being too graphic to be shown, but those won’t be found in this category, and are likely left to remain unseen by the public.

Director’s Commentary – The commentary by Director John Hillcoat is interesting, and he touches on quite a few interesting notes, including not wanting to use voice-over because they would have felt compelled to rely on it too much. I think this was a great call, and really helped the film if anything. This will be something fans of the film, and or book will want to listen to in order to see what Hillcoat and the crew had to work with.

Making of The Road – This featurette comes in at just under 14 minutes, and is about as informant as one can expect from a making-of that talks mainly with the actors, and thee crew. It’s something, at least, which films that don’t succeed usually end up without, but I think if the film had been more successful, time and money would have been invested into a deeper showcasing of just how they made everything as well as they did. Again though, it’s better than nothing, and still nice to hear what the actors themselves thought of the works.

Two theatrical trailers of the film as well as previews round out the extras section of this release.

The Road is a great film, and one that shouldn’t be missed. It’s the best rendition a fan of the book could have hoped for, and tells a heartfelt story that those who haven’t read the book will no doubt relate with on some level as well. How often will you watch the film after the first viewing? Well, that’d be where individual tastes come into play, but it should be seen at least once.

Dimension Films and 2929 Productions present The Road. Directed by: John Hillcoat. Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce. Running time: 111 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: May 25, 2010. Available at

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