Last Sunday I saw “The Road”, adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. It stars Viggo Mortensen as a father struggling to protect his son as they journey through a blasted, post-apocalyptic landscape.
The book was remarkable–I wrote about it here (take a minute to listen to the audio sample in that post–you won’t regret it). I place it alongside Netherland as the best written books I’ve read in a decade.
In my mind, then, the film had big shoes to fill. The book is all atmosphere and mood, with a pretty skeletal plot, so it was well-suited to adaptation. As I remember things, every event of the book appears in the film, though sometimes in a diminished role. I’m always encouraged when this happens–most adaptations from novels are both too long and too hurried.
In every respect–the grey, dystopian world, the sparse dialogue, the wasted cast of characters–the film accurately reflects the book. In fact, it’s the truest adaptation of a novel I’ve seen since Gary Sinise’s Of Mice and Men. As such, everything I had to say about the novel is true of the film. The movie making craft on display is, in every respect, exceptional.
The film, more than the book, highlighted the theme of how parents are sometimes burdened with parenthood. The incredibly bleak prospects which the father and son face in “The Road” mean that the father must confront some nearly unthinkable possibilities in protecting his son. There weren’t many dry eyes in the house by the end of this film, but I can’t imagine being the father of boys and not being deeply affected.
It’s not an easy movie to watch. If you’re up for it, I recommend “The Road”.