But the man’s love for the wife doesn’t necessarily nullify his love for his son, and their bond is exponentially increased by the choice to survive, to continue on, something the wife is unable to do. I still believe the film is structured around the man’s relationship with his son, but that the mother’s desertion serves to explain and even underline their almost parasitic relationship. In fact, with no one left to turn to I’d say it does well to illustrate what he had lost and how that made him react, namely that he refuses to let the child fall victim to any of the devastations that lay in their path. That he dies is still heart-breaking for me, because the last thing he wanted to do was to join his wife, especially while he is still so unsure of his son’s fate.
I haven’t read the book, so I didn’t have any expectations or preconceptions about the film staying faithful to the book (and in general could care less if films stay faithful to source material). But I agree with the same problems highlighted by most people. sentimental music, and unnecessary flashbacks were what killed the film for me. I didn’t hate the film, but those additions did make it fall a bit short. As far as saying Nick Cave is incapable of writing overly sentimental music as someone did earlier, that’s just silly. There are so many scenes where a tug-on-your-heart-strings piano does just as much talking as the actors, and it made certain key scenes almost laughable. I like Nick Cave, but the music was awful and conventional which really lends itself to what Josh Ryan mentioned about the film trying to be Oscar-bait.
I really respect that interpretation. I just think that her presence in the film greatly affected both of our individual understandings of the main characters’ relationship- mine for the worse and possibly yours for the better.
Zach, fair enough.
the Road was undoubtedly in my top 10 of 2009. it was minimalist, beautifully photographed in decaying grays and neutrals, frightening in suspense to a surprising degree with some truly disturbing and awkward moments, and lastly, it was tastefully sparse in dialogue. the mood and atmosphere did the talking. In style and genre, it played as a pessimist Western, but more obvious a traditional drama.
i didn’t read the book.. yet i have a feeling they should be recognized as each a separate medium of expression from the other, as it obviously is.
Obviously they’re separate media, and that’s all well and good, but it’s just like what happened with Blindness or Watchmen—if you’re going to adapt a revered, award-winning work of art, you’d better be able to find a way to respect the source by not just making a decent film, but by somehow capturing what made the source so great.
The problem with most adaptations is that they are cash-ins (as this obviously was in the wake of No Country for Old Men—speaking of which, that adaptation is actually better than the book), and not inspired works of their own right.
Josh, you’re projecting onto the film a false narrative so it fits your apparently preconceived idea of the film as Oscar Bait or, even sillier, a “cash-in”. I read in an interview that Hillcoat was working on getting the book in 2006 (even before it came out). The film itself was already going into production at the time that No Country was winning an Oscar.
Jacob, I was just listening to White Lunar today, which includes The Road soundtrack and it belies the idea that the score is sentimental when taken on its own terms. Like I wrote earlier, the “tug-on-your.hearts piano” actually recalls Satie more than anything, not exactly sentimental music. If the music is sentimental here, so is Malle’s use of music in Le Feu Follet as well as 99.99% of scores or use of music in general out there. It’s no more sentimental than the work Cave and Ellis did for Assassination of Jesse James (which listened on its own is far sadder music). If you want to argue that music is the opiate of cinema ( I forgot what critic or filmmaker first said that), that’s fine and Hillcoat certainly overuses the score but that’s a separate matter than the music itself.
I think there’s a meme out there on the film about its sentimentality that comes from people comparing it to the book which I think is largely unfair. Example, Hoberman attacked the film’s inclusion of the -—spoilers, I guess -—- dog at the end. But to me the inclusion of the dog had less to do with an "awe, cute, look at the family that managed to preserve itself and not eat their dog’ than it did to connect back to the barking above the shelter that caused them to run away which sparked an argument between Father and Son about trusting other people.
The fact that Hillcoat wasn’t able to get it until after No Country says the studio sure thought of it as a cash-in. I stand by what I said, though you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.
It’s just not a very good film.
Fair enough, but I still think that even if your interpretation of how the film got green-lit as a cash in for No Country wasn’t inconvenienced by the facts, there’s still how the Weinsteins treated the film once it was finished, handling the film in a way that also totally undermines your arguments. If it was an obvious cash-in, they would have released it in 2008 – as originally scheduled or even earlier, not delay it for more than a year. In fact, they treated it more like a film maudit than A Shakespeare in Love, totally screwing up the film’s distribution, essentially prematurely pulling it from theaters and scaling it back at the last minute. Whether you liked the film or not, their handling of it was disastrous. Obviously, they didn’t know what to do with it – which explains why they stuck it with Dimension, almost half-marketing it as just another post-apocalyptic zombie horror film.
On the subject of the Weinstein’s handling of the film (and just about every other non-Tarantino film), we are in complete agreement.
See? Every thread can have a happy ending! I’ll even throw in the dog we didn’t eat ;)
This is what I thought when I saw the road.
I’m seeing it at 4:20 at my local cheap theater. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed but…I’m not sure I can get over the overall look of the film clashing with my image of it.
I just got back from The Road. It’s fucking depressing, like the book. I think some issues were mishandled but overall I thought it was great. Better than I expected.
I saw a man and his son in the theater too. The kid was like…nine or ten. They stood in the back of the theater as the credits rolled, and the kid said, “I liked it” and the father said, “I’m surprised”.
The Road is an incredible story in both novel and film format. I believe they will both be regarded as classics in due time.
Ari = biggest shit-disturber on Auteurs.
Either way, read the book a year or so ago, saw the movie about 5 minutes ago. Bad adaptation. Says way too much with a source material that was good because of what it didn’t say.
how was this film ‘metaphysical’? I haven’t seen it, but what warrants that description?
@ Tyler. Hahaha. What makes me thus? Given the other jokers on this site, that is high praise indeed.
@ Joks – I use the term loosely but a “metaphysical science fiction film” is a film that uses the trappings of the science fiction genre (whether space travel, cyborgs, post-apocalypse,etc) in a metaphorical sense to explore more abstract philosophical questions such as the meaning of existence, the purpose of life, the nature of reality, how human life is defined, etc. Tarkovsky would obviously be at the top of this subgenre but it generally includes most of the good, and almost all of the great, science fiction films like 2001, Blade Runner, etc. Whether you like The Road or not, the film’s concerns are metaphysical (what it means to try to be a moral person in a amoral or immoral world, the nature of parental love, etc,etc.). Moon would be another recent example of such a film.
“@ Joks – I use the term loosely but a “metaphysical science fiction film” is a film that uses the trappings of the science fiction genre (whether space travel, cyborgs, post-apocalypse,etc) in a metaphorical sense to explore more abstract philosophical questions such as the meaning of existence, the purpose of life, the nature of reality, how human life is defined, etc. Tarkovsky would obviously be at the top of this subgenre but it generally includes most of the good, and almost all of the great, science fiction films like 2001, Blade Runner, etc. Whether you like The Road or not, the film’s concerns are metaphysical (what it means to try to be a moral person in a amoral or immoral world, the nature of parental love, etc,etc.). Moon would be another recent example of such a film.”
i understand what you mean by the genre. I was just curious how it applied to the road. Noit sure if a ‘moral person in an amoral’ world counts as metaphysical though, but are you are right in terms of the nature of reality, the essence of human life etc etc. It definitely applies to all the other films you mentioned. I’ll have to check out The Road to see for myself.
@ Joks – to me, this question is metaphysical because it explores the nature of human morality. What does it mean to be “one of the good guys” “keeping the fire?”
“@ Joks – to me, this question is metaphysical because it explores the nature of human morality. What does it mean to be “one of the good guys” “keeping the fire?””
thanks for clarifying.
This movie = Oscar bait.
I really don’t see how this movie was seen as so powerful and profound. I thought it was mighty shallow. But to each their own I guess!