The movie opens with a hilarious exchange between Howie (Meatloaf) and Johnny Gavineau (Garret Dillahunt, who you might remember from THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT), where Johnny is looking to purchase a retired tiger from Howie in order to start a local safari in a get-rich-quick scheme. After attempting to swindle Howie into cutting the price, Meatloaf delivers an epic monologue that transforms this cute circus tiger into a blood-craving monstrosity. Following a good thirty minutes of character development – Johnny steals Kelly’s (Briana Evigan from SORORITY ROW) money that was being used to send her autistic brother into care so she could go off to college – the plot thickens when Kelly awakes to discover that there’s a tiger loose in her house. To worsen the situation, Johnny has boarded up the entire house from the outside to protect it from the hurricane. (…)
Watching this movie by myself just wasn’t fair; I was having too much fun and had nobody to share it with. There were moments that had me laughing, sometimes I cheered, and then there were a few occasions where I jumped out of my seat. RAVENOUS is straight-up FUN. [Bloody Disgusting]
The Road was screened for the press yesterday and premiered today in Venice, so the first reviews are in. But you probably want to see this first:
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For more clips from the film, go to TrailerAddict.com.
John Hillcoat, Joe Penhall, Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee were at the premiere. For some pics, visit Zimbio.
Here are some initial reviews from the Venice screenings:
In “The Road,” director John Hillcoat has performed an admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale, even at the cost of sacrificing color, big scenes and standard Hollywood imagery of post-apocalyptic America. [The Hollywood Reporter]
John Hillcoat’s superb adaptation of the prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy leads its audience on a road to nowhere. The route takes us through blighted forests and past derelict homes, all this way to a grey and barren ocean that breaks against the shore. (…) What a haunting, harrowing, powerful film this is. Before last night’s premiere there were rumours that its lengthy post-production period (the movie was actually shot back in February 2008) spelled signs of a troubled, sickly production. By and large, those fears have now proved to be unfounded. [Guardian.co.uk]
As heartbreaking on screen as it was on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-prize winning pages, The Road is an almost unbearably sad film, beautifully arranged and powerfully acted – a tribute to the array of talents involved. There is so much in this picture, from dread, horror, to suspense, bitterly moving love, extraordinary, Oscar-worthy art direction and a desperate lead performance from Viggo Mortensen which perfectly illustrates the wrenching desperation of parental love. But its hopelessness will make The Road hard going for general audiences: critical and awards support are vital to its commercial success or failure and even still The Road will be a challenge. [ScreenDaily.com]
John Hillcoat has made a film of power and sensitivity that works remarkably well on the big screen. It plays like a Dystopian version of Huck Finn. “Tattered gods slouching in their rags across the waste,” was how McCarthy described the father and son on their grim odyssey south across America toward the coast.
The film captures well the strange mix of heroism and seeming futility that characterises the journey. What is most impressive is the restraint the filmmakers bring to their material. The look of the film is muted and grey other than in the flashbacks to the pre-apocalyptic moments that the man (Viggo Mortensen) enjoyed with his wife (Charlize Theron) before the world ground to a halt. [Independent.co.uk]
The Road is harrowing and beautifully composed. It aestheticises horror, thus getting away with ugly, disturbing, even ghoulish scenes by turning them into the cinematic equivalent of those Sebastiao Salgado photographs of Brazilian gold miners.
McCarthy’s novel worked partly because of what it left to the imagination. The film leaves nothing to the imagination — not even a cellarful of desperate human cattle who are being kept alive for slaughter. So although Joe Penhall’s script is remarkably faithful to the original, it doesn’t feel quite right. The film is bleak and visionary, but it leaves a faintly nasty taste in the mouth, as if it wanted to rope in the horror fans under its arthouse cloak. Yet there’s no denying its raw power. [London Evening Standard]
Roger Friedman at Showbiz411 has posted his review of The Road. Here are a few quotes:
Hillcoat has done justice to McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winner. “The Road” is elegiac and moving, artful and yet suspenseful. No, it’s not a raucous good time. It can be thoughtful and grim. But here’s the interesting thing: Viggo Mortensen’s performance as a father walking through a post-apocalypse America with his young son is just fascinating. It stays with you long after leaving the theater. Mortensen is that good.
There aren’t a lot of other actors in “The Road.” Charlize Theron is very good as Viggo’s wife, in flashbacks. Both Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce make cameo appearances. Eleven-year-old (he’s 13 now) Kodi Smit-McPhee is just right as the couple’s son.
What Hillcoat and screenwriter Joe Penhall do is accurately capture McCarthy’s tone and lauguage. This isn’t easy to do. “The Road” is a bleak trip, told in muted blacks, blues, and grays. There are no blue skies after whatever caused the apocalypse (is it nuclear war? we don’t know. Everything left, including the trees, is dying.)
You can read the full article here.
Esquire’s Tom Chiarella has a lengthy piece about The Road up (“The Road Is the Most Important Movie of the Year“) which is also the first official review of the film in a major publication. Here are some snippets:
The Road is no tease. It is a brilliantly directed adaptation of a beloved novel, a delicate and anachronistically loving look at the immodest and brutish end of us all. You want them to get there, you want them to get there, you want them to get there — and yet you do not want it, any of it, to end.
You should see it for the simplest of reasons: Because it is a good story. Not because it may be important. Not because it is unforgettable, unyielding. Not because it horrifies. Not because the score is creepily spiritual. Not because it is littered with small lines of dialogue you will remember later. Not because it contains warnings against our own demise. All of that is so. Don’t see it just because you loved the book. The movie stands alone. Go see it because it’s two small people set against the ugly backdrop of the world undone. A story without guarantees. In every moment — even the last one — you’ll want to know what happens next, even if you can hardly stand to look. Because The Road is a story about the persistence of love between a father and a son, and in that way it’s more like a remake of The Godfather than some echo of I Am Legend.
Only this one is different: You won’t want to see this one twice.
The other certainty is that everyone involved in this movie is working against the predictable imperatives of perhaps the most predictable movie genre of them all: the apocalyptic thriller. The great experiment of the movie is that it hangs on nothing if not the subversion of the conventions of the genre. These people want the same thing from The Road that Busby Berkeley wanted, the same thing any artist with a sense of urgency wants. They want for people to walk out of the theater feeling it in their chest plate. They want them to say, perhaps for reasons they cannot consciously fathom, to everyone they know: You have to see it. Really.
You do. Not because it’s grim, not because it’s depressing, or even scary. The Road is all of those things, both acutely and chronically. But there was not a single stupid choice made in turning this book into this movie. No wrongheaded lyric tribute to the novel. No moment engineered simply to make you jump.
The terror of it is in a normal world made vacant. There is a surprising terror in a landscape of farmhouses full of possessions that have no function, a remarkable danger in a pile of old hammers, in the possibility of forgetting what things were once for.
The article also raises some concerns about Bob Weinstein’s marketing strategy for the film:
Weinstein acknowledges that loyal readers of Cormac McCarthy’s book, which was published in 2006, are probably worried. He’s sitting in a conference room in Manhattan, about to pop in a DVD containing two potential trailers. He seems to be figuring out how to talk about the film as he goes, fighting contrary tugs from some internal narrator, giving in only by the slenderest of degrees to the urge to mollify two, three, four different audiences.
First, he calls it a literate action movie. At one point he calls it a zombie movie. Then he starts talking about his kids. “When I had my kids, I was grateful. I was like, Now there’s something other to think about than me,” he says, and that word — me — echoes in the star chamber. “Every parent has that. You don’t have to have kids. You’re human. If you can’t relate to this story, then check your humanity somewhere. I felt this whole relationship with this father and son. Yeah. And yet it was thrilling.”
When Bob Weinstein rolls those trailers, each one assumes the predictable arc of a story compressed to its essence. There is a speed to them that the actual movie — which I saw before seeing the trailers — does not possess or seek to possess, an urgency that feels manufactured. The music is pulse-pounding and urgent, driven to create absurd expectations of action in a movie that quietly elicits worry about the relative friability of the invisible paths that exist between people and what they need. Still, every utterance, every cry for help or hand clasped across the mouth of the boy to suppress a sob, is a fair-enough emanation from the heart of the movie.
The odd thing is, the start of each trailer includes glimpses of a storm, panicky news footage, little puzzle pieces of the world before it ended. No one — not the director or the myriad producers, not the novelist or the screenwriter — had ever even hinted at how it happened, until this.
For someone who loves the book, for anyone who knows the story going in, this is a moment you hoped would never come. Why remind us of the reductive logic of cause and effect? Before the question can be asked, Weinstein stands up, offers his hand, and says, “Okay, we’re going with the first one.” He gives no rationale. And so it seems the metonymic references to the national news, to the weather, to presumed military conflicts laid in as a tonally quiet explanation of what is never known in book or movie, for now will stay in the trailer.
The Road also finally has an official release date: it’s October 16, 2009.
“Water Pills” is a strong film with a solid beginning, middle, and end. All of the major performances are note-worthy, especially the one from the film’s youngest star. While sharing the weight of the film with some talented co-stars, Anthony (or JJA as I’m sure the teen mags will start calling her) really nails her role. Her character is strong, nearly untouchable, and deals with her mom’s craziness by working harder, letting the snide comments slide right by her. Overall, everyone involved with the film pulled their own weight and it shows.