Maybe I just didn’t get it. Looking back, I see what story the film was trying to tell (and no, it isn’t the story it purports to tell, it’s deeper) but I just couldn’t bring myself to care.
In terms of movie-making, the film stands above its story. The cinematography and overall sound and color of the film do a beautiful job of portraying starkness, desolation and even despair. The story, though, whimpers through a few moments of action (the term “action” is used pretty loosely here) and consists mostly of two scavengers roaming a bleak countryside.
A man leading his son across a post-apocalyptic landscape dotted with nomadic bands of cannibals sounds like a “can’t miss” formula. How they managed to make The Road so mind-numbingly boring is the most impressive thing about the film. Picture Mad Max if he had a whiny, simpering kid for a sidekick and ran and hid anytime something interesting threatened to happen. The book (which admittedly I haven’t read) was written by Cormac McCarthy, who also penned No Country For Old Men. The similarities are obvious. But while Javier Bardem was able to turn in a chillingly stark portrayal of his character in No Country…, Viggo Mortensen is forced to settle for an admittedly poignant portrayal of a guy who really doesn’t have anything to do except walk around and babysit. The ending to The Road is nearly – but not quite – as unsatisfying as No Country… as well. Someone might want to explain to Mr. McCarthy that people sometimes like for their stories to end with some sort of resolution. In this particular case, though, the closing credits was all the resolution I needed – I was just glad that it was over.