In a moment the world changed forever.
Based on the novel of the same title by Cormac McCarthy, The Road tells a story about a father (Mortensen) and a son (Smit-McPhee) travelling across a post-apocalyptic land. Several years ago, a mysterious cataclysm left the world without any plants or animals, and destroyed civilization. Millions of people have died, and those who are still breathing wander through the lifeless landscape, searching in vain for food. Many of them rally into gangs and resort to vicious man-hunting and cannibalism. In this grim and desperate world, the Man and the Boy travel south, as they won’t last another winter where they are now...
The Road is not a typical post-apocalyptic movie. Director John Hillcoat barely uses any special effects at all, apart from those employed in making the backgrounds gloomier. Nevertheless, by not resorting to cheap tricks and predictable movie clichés, he manages to create an atmosphere of tension, menace and desperation that few movies can boast. The non-linear plot, involving flashbacks to the time before and just after the apocalyptic event, and the cruel realism of the film strengthen these feelings even more, making The Road a powerful and memorable experience.
In the end, The Road is a movie about humanity and the underlying moral values of a human being. It dwells upon the questions of what it means to be a human, what makes one a “good guy”, as the Boy puts it, and when you become a “bad guy”. Although the realism of occasional scenes might seem distasteful to some, the whole movie is directed masterly, not spilling a single unnecessary drop of blood or veering into the horror genre. Scratch beyond the surface of The Road and you’ll be rewarded with insight into the profound ideas that earned McCarthy the Pulitzer Prize.