Based on the amazing book by Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2009, dir. John Hillcoat) is a post-apocalyptic drama that follows a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they attempt to survive after a mysterious cataclysmic event that has killed most plant and animal life. The man and his son are travelling south towards the coast in order to avoid an inevitably harsh winter, facing the brutalities of both nature and fellow man.
The Road is one of those films (and books) where you have to take five minutes afterwards to think about happy things so that you don’t spend the rest of your day in a totally depressed state. The whole film is so bleak, dark, and depressing. I really loved the book, and I felt that the film was quite a faithful translation. The book is deliberately ambiguous about certain elements of the plot, and the film attempts to tie up those loose ends in a manner that is still faithful to the essence of McCarthy’s characteristically depressing vision. The performances of both Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee are just as good as one another, with Smit-McPhee in particular being a highlight.
However, there’s only so much bleakness and darkness one can take before their brain shuts off, and to some extent I think this was just too much for me, even though I loved the book. Luckily, The Road plays host to some of the most beautiful cinematography that I’ve seen lately, so my brain was able to stay active and awake. The visuals are undoubtedly dark, but with such grittiness and texture in each shot that your eye has so much to look at. There are so many interesting patterns, and spellbinding symmetry and asymmetry, that draws your eye in, no matter the reprehensible visions on display.
The cinematographer is Javier Aguirresarobe, who also worked on Blue Jasmine (2013), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Warm Bodies (2013), and two Twilight films – New Moon (2009) and Eclipse (2010). Aguirresarobe is probably one of my favourite cinematographers as of late. All of his work has such great texture and plays upon the use of colour to create mood and tension. In the case of The Road, the colours are largely greys, taupes, and khakis, but with the occasional bursts of colour that almost seem like a beacon of hope for the man and his son.
Here is a rather large selection of my favourite shots from The Road. As always, I’ve tried to mix everything up so that the story is not completely obvious. Also, if your computer screen is generally darker then most, then you probably won’t be able to see half of these.
Film rating: 3.5/5
Cinematography rating: 4.5/5
Watch the trailer here.
Watch this film at Amazon!