The Road Blu Ray|
Directed by John Hilcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road is an Oscar-winning survival drama based on Cormac McCarthy's 2006 novel of the same name.
This remarkable, life-enhancing film follows a father and son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A devastating, unexplained catastrophe occurred a number of years previous, destroying civilisation, killing all plants and animals and blocking-out the sun. The only humans that made it through the disaster have been reduced to scavenging or cannibalism. The father and son must bravely journey south where they believe it will be warmer. All they have is a gun, the clothes they're wearing and each other! But will that be enough to survive the lawless gangs that roam the streets? And if they do make it to their destination alive, what will await them when they get there?
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Average Rating for The Road [Blu-ray]  - 4 out of 5
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The Road [Blu-ray] Jon Meakin
John Hillcoat's The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy's book, is likely to be everything you heard it was; a relentlessly bleak, post-apocalyptic story with no actual apocalypse shown and a non-existent plot. You might quite rightly ask yourself, why should I put myself through this for two hours? Well, you should because it is an unusual and brilliant drama, yet not depressing and strangely life-affirming instead.
This is not the Roland Emmerich school of apocalypse (Independence Day, 2012, etc), where the human element is simply fodder for whatever grand and terrible fate has befallen us. It is a simple tale of survival for the sake of living, an ode to human spirit and the relationship between a father and his son. There are no aliens to regroup against and fight; no Nirvana of a hippy commune to get to; no magical key to kick start the Earth. No, the planet is dead and clearly hopeless. The man and his son just keep moving (heading for the coast is their loose aim), scavenging for food wherever they can and avoiding the gangs of cannibals who are brutal and ruthless. For a film that is so much a drama, there are several scenes of shocking, raw horror. It should be expected from Hillcoat who also directed McCarthy's The Proposition, with bloody and stark honesty.
But there still has to be a point and it really is as simple as concentrating on the little things we take for granted and seeing them enrich the awful existence of the man and the boy. Things like savouring what is probably the last can of Coca-Cola in the world, or finding a bath and being able to use shampoo. Both a hollow-eyed, ragged Viggo Mortensen and shell-shocked Kodi Smit-McPhee give stunning performances and the only thing better is their relation to one another. On the road, they shed the detritus of their former lives and Viggo is particularly heartbreaking as he tries to let go of the haunting memories of his wife (Charlize Theron). A moment on a bridge in particular is astonishing. When they meet old and vulnerable Ely (Robert Duvall), the elegant dialogue finally reveals the beating heart of the film; it is almost too obvious really and borders on sentimental optimism, a huge contrast with the overly cynical premise.
Duvall is superb in his scene and others make the most of their brief moments too, especially Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) and Guy Pearce proves why he is one of the best actors of his generation too. Charlize Theron is sharply effective in flashbacks as the wife and mother, though hers is a confused character. But it is to the benefit of the screenplay and they are all played with an impressive realism. That's the order of the day: no other film has so authentically realised an apocalypse like this one.
Hillcoat's direction with Javier Aguirresarobe's photography nails home that realism and what little of America is left is horrifyingly believable. It might seem a bland palette, but his use of light is frequently beautiful and on Blu-Ray the depth and contrast comes to life. The sound is fantastic too, with occasional earthquakes and falling trees putting any decent sound system through its paces.
The Road is powerful and affecting. Some dismiss it as depressing, but they were probably depressed because they couldn't see past the lack of plot and set-pieces to find the genuine and substantial human drama within. Ok, it isn't as much fun as Independence Day, but it has much more value. It's about growing old, death and what we leave behind, but it's also about family and innocence. It's not as profound as it could be and even borders on being a bit dumb. Depressing? No. Transformers 2 is depressing! Let's keep the perspective.
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