This movie tonally inspired The Last Of Us, and upon hearing about it, I was expecting a well-done, yet typical post-apocalypse film. What I ended up with? Well...
Directed by John Hillcoat
Written by Joe Penhall
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road is a post-apocalyptic survival drama from 2009 that was given a limited release but still managed to gain a strong amount of critical praise, despite the Australian director being more of a music-video-type and the writer penning mostly plays.
A man and his son make their way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland towards the coastline, struggling to retain their humanity and "carry the fire", their way of keeping that last beacon of hope alive. The people they encounter along the way test their resolve, along with their faith in humanity.
Why's it so underrated?
There are many post-apocalyptic stories in existence. I would argue that this one is the most realistic. I'm not talking about realism in terms of logic and scientific portrayal, I am talking more in terms of the emotions of the characters and how they are in the situations they are placed in.
The way this film is crafted is spectacular. The writing manages to strike the perfect balance between giving us enough details about the characters so that they are fleshed out and omitting enough details to allow us as the audience to project ourselves onto them. The relationship between the father and son feels like any well-developed strong familial bond and the conflicts that arise from this bond make the characters so compelling and so easy to empathise with from all angles.
The cinematography makes the eternal wastelands hauntingly beautiful without compromising how bleak they are, making for sprawling landscapes that are as terrifying as they are compelling and the score aids subtly in complementing the already emotional undertones of the film.
The best part is the cast. Viggo Mortensen carries the bulk of the film, playing a father that struggles to keep his family going and their morals intact, and he knocks this role out of the park with an extremely powerful performance. Kodi Smit-McPhee does a fantastic job of playing off him, really giving the sense that they're the only thing keeping each other sane. The supporting cast, full of talented actors like Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Michael Kenneth Williams all serve as interesting characters for our leads to encounter, testing their humanity and their faith in one another.
At the end of the day, The Road is a low-key more emotionally-driven post-apocalypse story that lacks the genre-thrills of Mad Max or any other like its kind, but it instead provides unforgettable drama that never fails to immerse the audience into its world and into the situations presented to our two main leads. The cast, the cinematography and the writing amalgamate to present a hauntingly resonant movie.
Thanks for reading.