Monday, January 11, 2010

The Road. Finally.

"Sometimes I tell the boy old stories of courage and justice - difficult as they are to remember. All I know is the child is my warrant and if he is not the word of God, then God never spoke."

The picture above is a reoccurring pose for the Man and the Boy in Cormac McCarthy's long awaited (by me mostly, it seems) film adaptation of his novel, "The Road". I read "The Road" last summer and it immediately, before I was even finished, became one of the only modern fiction novels on my top 10 book list. Needless to say, it affected me deeply.

The Man clutches the Boy, forehead to mouth, nose to nose, hand to neck. Through the entire film the Man grabs hold of the Boy constantly and often forcibly, keeping him close. The Man's love and ferocious protection of the Boy is displayed physically in a harsh way. And it is fitting; it's a harsh story. We get to see in the movie what is so excellently conveyed in the book. This intense physicality is symbolic of the constant and unrelenting threat of unspeakable horror that could befall them at any point along their journey. They are never safe. It's anxiety inducing to watch. But the Man will stop at absolutely nothing to survive and to keep his son alive in the extreme conditions of their new life. "Because it's my job."

The tenderness that abounds in Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of the Man is crushingly beautiful. The desperation that is held always in his eyes, in his posture, in his hands-- all for the care of his son, makes him heroic on a level not often visited in film. In contrast to the cold, barren and desolate world they now live in, the Man's interactions with his son (and flashbacks to his former life with the Wife) are delicate in a way that actually fills you with longing. Viggo is exactly how I imagined the Man when reading the book. The young actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee) playing the Boy was wonderful as well. The beauty of the boy matched with the hideous emptiness of the landscape around him was brilliant.

It can't compare to the book (Honestly, what can?), but the film is slow, steady, dark, excruciating, and gorgeous. I was satisfied.

"If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different.
And so I have you... I have you."
"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."

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