"You think I come from another world, don't you?"
In the years following an unspecified apocalyptic event a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) spend life on the road, constantly moving south in search of food and shelter and hoping to avoid bands of hungry cannibals.
I first saw this film in the cinema a couple of years ago and was blown away by its bleakness and beauty. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the look of decaying beauty and there are few films that show that so much as this. The screen is filled with various shades of grey and the sun never shines. The backdrop to the family’s struggle is filled with decrepit landscapes ruined by an unknown catastrophic event. These scenes are further heightened by flash backs to before the event in which Mortensen and his wife Charlize Theron are seen to be enjoying life in a colourful and vibrant world. Other flashbacks show life in the years after the apocalypse during which Theron is pregnant and subsequently where she struggles to deal with her harsh new surroundings.
I thought that Viggo Mortensen was excellent in the film. He conveys the utter hopelessness of their walk but never gives up in an attempt to protect his son. He also changes during the film as his morals become slightly blurred when their predicament becomes ever tougher. His son played by young Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee is also very good and does a fine American accent. One of the best parts of the film for me are the small cameos from the likes of Michael K. Williams and Robert Duvall. The two central characters rarely come across others so when they do these are tense, interesting and often upsetting encounters. Both Williams and Duvall are excellent in their small roles.
Some of the best scenes are those in which the father and son are shown to be from other worlds. In one scene they enter a house and the boy stares puzzled at a deer’s head on the wall having never seen one before. Mortensen gives a sad but knowing glance. In another scene the boy has coke for the first time and this again drums home how different their world is from ours.
The Road is an often depressing but always beautiful glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world and features some beautiful cinematography and great acting.