Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Road" Kill

By Chase Kahn

John Hillcoat's The Road, a much anticipated post-apocalyptic film adapted from Cormac McCarthy's 2006 best-selling and much-beloved novel has just been hit with a huge pan by Variety's Todd McCarthy.

Originally set for release last year, The Road (Dimension, 10.16.09) has been delayed a full year until now, when will finally play at the Venice Film Festival today. McCarthy's review comes from an 08.27 screening in Los Angeles.

He writes:

"This Road leads nowhere...Except for the physical aspects of this bleak odyssey by a father and son through a post-apocalyptic landscape, this long-delayed production falls dispiritingly short on every front. Showing clear signs of being test-screened and futzed with to death."

"But Hillcoat, who played with heavy violence in "The Proposition" and made some of it stick, shows no talent for or inclination toward setting up a scene here; any number of sequences in "The Road" could have been very suspenseful if built up properly, but Hillcoat, working from a script by Joe Penhall, just hopscotches from scene to scene in almost random fashion without any sense of pacing or dramatic modulation."

It's certainly a big blow and McCarthy's review coinciding with the long delay certainly spells trouble. I'm a big fan of the Australian director John Hillcoat's The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce and released back in 2006, but this review doesn't do much to get me excited. We'll find out more today from Venice.

The Road stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Garret Dillahunt. It's set to release on October 16th.


  1. I always wonder with such great books to work on how filmmakers manage to get so far sidetracked and fail so often. It seems to me the writers often pick the wrong things to condense, the directors can't find the right tone, and the studio cuts everything about the pacing out in favor of a shorter film.

    9/10 times book to film adaptations just get lost in the mess.

  2. I agree. "No Country For Old Men" sticks out as an adapatation that worked as a film, but I haven't read that book, so I couldn't tell you why.

    Other stuff like "There Will Be Blood" -- based on Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" is so loosely based that it doesn't compromise the film in any way. That seems to be the route to go.