Monday, October 4, 2010

The Road (2009) by John Hillcoat

-Suppose you were the last man on Earth.
-How would you know that. That you were the last man on Earth?
-I suppose it wouldn't be something you knew. It'd just be something you did.

These words never come to fruition in either Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel or John Hillcoat's fantastic adaptation. But, for one reason or another in this brief scene between The Man (Viggo Mortenson) and Eli (Robert Duvall) we understand what is really at stake in the lives of these dying people getting by on this dying planet. When surviving is to be the last man on Earth, a title that only God would know, what good is survival? What good is a trip to the coast? We don't really know what the point is, all we know is that its all that matters.

John Hillcoat's film is nearly flawless as a film, and looks stunning. The only real complaint to be made against the film is that it lacks some of the poetic punch McCarthy's novel contains. This, however, is not anything against the film just a difference in the mediums of film and literature. The fact that he was willing to take on (what most consider to be) the greatest novel in the canon of one of, if not the greatest American author working today is a feat in itself. But, the fact is, that the novel doesn't offer a lot to film for a mainstream audience which causes the film to feel disjointed at times because there are not the long passages of the man describing the journey on the road, it just shows them traveling briefly before moving onto the next important scene with action or dialogue in it.

I highly recommend seeing this picture. However, I would suggest seeing it before reading the novel if you plan on doing both. If you have already read The Road just keep in mind that you cannot do the same things on film that you can do in a novel and you will appreciate Hillcoat's vision of McCarthy's masterpiece novel.


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