Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Road


The Road less traveled indeed. People raved about McCarthy’s book and now are lauding the movie. I would normally start with a breif plot summary, but since there is none…let us move on. All you need to know is this 11 year old kid and his father are on a long hellish walk to nowhere through post-apocalyptic America. This brings up a series of frustrations that can be stated as a severe lack of detail. Why doesn't the movie or the book tell what caused the apocalypse? Of course we can guess at many possibilities (Global Warming, catastrophic sun flares, nuclear war, alien destruction, the wrath of the gods, etc.) but someone please tell me what sort of event would wipe out every living "animal" (as said in the book and movie) and not humankind? Why are we able to breath the air if it is nuclear fallout? Did no animals hide like apparently very few humans did? And under what godforesaken circumstances would humans choose to stay underground and eat eachother versus coming up for air and testing the what appears to be, normal atmosphere? Why did no rebuilding efforts start?

But let us continue...We learn in flashback that the Mortensen character's wife saw no better option than suicide. I wish the father and son did the same thing. In fact, this really is the only intelligble point or interesting thing to ponder in this entire movie. We see the father constantly struggling with this idea of taking his kid's life and/or his own. I am actually not sure what keeps them going...other than the fact they have to because they are in a movie.

The movie proceeds as a series of events that don't equal a story. But on that note of story (and if you know me, you know I don't really care about story as long as the movie is able to keep my attention), I have more frustrations: The kid was 11 years old. 11 years old!! Why didn't the father train him to be on his own if he knew he was going to die? He was as helpless as a 5 year old. And if the father was so concerned about his kid, why would he let himself die before killing his kid? This is absolutely contrary to the entire of his characters' ethos. He may have not been able to take his son's life but they both could have died at the same time. This act made human perserverance seem stupid. Life is not about LIFE, it is about QUALITY OF LIFE. Leaving his son in hell hole America is just wrong.

Movies can be mirrors or microscopes of humanity and our imaginative ideas, but their primary purposes are threefold: 1. to be a medium of art. 2. to be an expression of a person's (or group of people's) ideas. and 3. TO ENTERTAIN!!!! All these three must happen for a movie to work properly. The Road has number one and a little of number two but that simply is not good enough. It is a half-assed, urealized concept of misanthropy and depression. A fellow critic said it best: "Who wants a date with agony?"

By the way...for those of you who claim the movie is "hopeful"...an rediculous "happy" ending doesn't cut it. As stated by that same critic: "There isn't a moral lesson, or a spiritual one, or a philosophical one, or a political one, though this last factor might be counted an advantage. At least we're spared a lecture about how we deserved all this."

This is a very rare review for me in which I place much more emphasis on the plot/story than I usually do.