9 am on a Sunday is pretty early to go see a movie, but for a film based on a Cormac McCarthy book, I’ll put on some pants. I am after all unemployed, so Sundays have little relevance to me other than being the hardest day to find new job listings online.
I went to the theater with a lot of questions: will they stay true to “The Road’s” ominous vision? Will the actors be able to capture the despair that McCarthy’s characters bleed with each struggling step along the tarmac? I spent two hours Sunday morning in an attempt to discover the answers to these questions and just like an episode of “Lost,” I left with even more.
Did anyone who worked on this movie read the book? Did they read it more than once? Did they read it sober? Did they know that Cormac McCarthy is still alive and could have been consulted for his views on it?
The movie came off like something made by the cousin of some guy who read “The Road” and then told his buddy about it. Yeah sure, they got all the set dressings right, the environment was bleak, the characters were dirty and it really looked like a crappy place to raise a kid. But as anyone who read “The Road” and got it understands, the real setting of the book is inside the characters. The true depravity of the world is internal, each of the few people in McCarthy’s bleak America carry a part of it and it comes out not just in the words they speak but in those they don’t. This is perhaps where the director most missed the mark, the dialogue.
McCarthy’s words resonate on paper. It is easy to imagine he spent hours crafting the particular arrangement of seven words to give life to a sentence. The words on screen attempt to fill in the gaps, bring definition to McCarthy’s sparse prose and in this attempt they remove the mystery, fill the gap that should be filled by the viewer’s imagination.
If you’ve read the book and liked it, go see the movie. You know you want to anyway and no matter how much it misses the elusive mark, it’s still okay. For those who haven’t read the book, there’s not a lot here for you. It would be understandable if you watched this wondering just what the hell the rest of us see in this McCarthy guy and this supposedly epic novel we can’t shut up about. For everyone, I highly recommend checking out “No Country for Old Men” which still reigns as the best film made from a McCarthy novel (we disavow Billy Bob’s “All the Pretty Horses”).
Directed by John Hillcoat
Starring: Viggo Mortenson, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Robert Duvall
Who it’s for: Diehard fans, even those folks might want to wait for Netflix.
Word Feast Rating: 2/5