Review of The Road

Last night I watched the new film, The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy’s award winning book and directed by Australian John Hillcoat (here’s his diary):

It’s a terrifying vision of a post-apocalyptic world where cannibalism thrives. We are never told why the planet is destroyed (nuclear holocaust/environmental catastrophe?) but it doesn’t matter. The grim vision is contrasted with the moving relationship between a father and a son and their seemingly never-ending journey towards a better life. The film’s palate is grey and black, burning forests, earthquakes and utter devastation. In many ways, the images reminded me of the carnage in Haiti or Gaza.

It’s the kind of story that inspires either love or hate. It’s bleak and a grinding two hours but I liked its oddly optimistic tone and belief in a better humanity. What survives is love, friendship and a kind of hope. It’s messy and uncontrolled and utterly unpredictable but director Hillcoat has a history of dark films and doesn’t shy away from showing the dark side of humanity.

Overall, though, I found The Road uplifting because it forces us to assess our own fears.