Thursday, November 26, 2009

Short Take: 'The Road' [B-]

By Chase Kahn

John Hillcoat's The Road is certainly a capable and aptly-produced adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy best-seller. It moves, sounds, and feels fully functional -- thanks to the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis score and the Javier Aguirresarobe grayscale photography -- but like many have said before me, it never fully blooms and becomes something stirring.

It's a father/son, post-apocalyptic every-man-for-himself kind of thing, with a variety of supporting characters introduced along the way, including some memorable turns by Robert Duvall as a withered, lonesome old scavenger and Michael K. Williams as a desperate, yet vulnerable thief. The film is appropriately brutal, dark, cold, corroded and weathered -- with shots of soot-smothered areas of traditionally heavy human traffic lingering in order to heighten their effect.

I enjoyed Viggo Mortensen's bruised and threadbare performance -- it's desperate, it's weepy and it's dirt-under-the-fingernails gritty -- but not entirely to the extent that I felt necessary. It's a performance mostly comprised of live, on-screen endurance tests -- pain, fear, anxiety, survival, etc. It's nice and certainly no pushover, but give me Eastern Promises.

In the end, I didn't find The Road utterly aimless and hopelessly given the patchwork treatment (the Weinsteins did delay it almost a full year from its original '08 release date), I just found it a bit skinny -- not devoid of meaning, but devoid of impact.

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