“The Road” Has Haunted Me All Week

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”.


  1. I was curious how the movie was compared to the book. I really enjoyed the book, but I don’t think I can see the movie…too bleak.

    Don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but was the ending the same?

  2. Interesting that you mention “Of Mice and Men” because that’s one of the films that’s haunted me for years (well 17 years, since I saw it in a theatre–just once). The one other film where entire scenes comes back to me (as opposed to just a dialog, or an image, or a mood) is 2001, but that I’ve seen several times on video. I suppose it’s no coincidence that powerful novels + good adaptations = vivid memories. I also note that none of these are based on fear or horror, which seems to be Hollywood’s basic go-to emotion.

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