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Laramie Movie Scope: The Road

2012 was cheery compared to this

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 1, 2010 -- The dull gray, monotony of existence never looked as uninviting as it does in this post-apocalyptic tale of global cooling and hiding from cannibals. I expected this movie to be totally depressing, but it isn't that bad. It is only 98 percent depressing. I was talking to this guy after the movie who said this should have been nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award instead of “The Blind Side,” but he would have liked it better if everyone had committed suicide at the end. That sums up one big problem with movie reviews. There are too many critics out there who hate uplifting films and who delight in gloom and doom.

Speaking of gloom and doom, that pretty well sums up this movie. Some kind of catastrophe has wiped out civilization and killed all the plants and animals in the world, except for people. The few people who are left are scrounging around for what's left of the canned food, or are killing and eating those people. The sky is perpetually dark and gray, as is most everything else. The colors are all desaturated in this movie, except for the flashback scenes which take place in the time before the catastrophe. It also rains most of the time, which makes no sense, but it the rain does amplify the film's dreary one-note mood.

Slogging through this nightmare existence are a father and his son, played by Viggo Mortensen of the “Lord of the Ring” movies and young Kodi Smit-McPhee. They push a shopping cart down the road loaded with their worldly possessions, searching for food and hiding from cannibals. Their one gun is down to its last two bullets, reserved for suicide if the cannibals get them. In one scene, they come across a farm and see a family that has committed suicide. In a house, they find a skeleton in a bed. “It's nothing you haven't seen before,” the father tells the boy. The young boy's mother, played by Charlize Theron of “Hancock” is seen only in the flashback scenes.

You can't really blame a person for becoming paranoid in this kind of situation. The father is clearly losing it, but the boy, miraculously, still has his humanity intact. He keeps asking his father, “Are we still the good guys?” It is a valid question as the father takes increasingly violent and heartless actions which he believes will protect his son. During their journey they see a number of cannibals, and a few others, including an old man, Eli (played by Robert Duvall of “Crazy Heart”). The father tells his son that he won't always be around. His son will have to learn to survive on his own.

The film has a distinctive, colorless gray look to it, and the sets and locations create a very end of the world look. The acting is very good by everyone involved. The problem is the story moans its one sad note for way too long. There is some attempt to create suspense, but that part of the film doesn't really work. I never did believe these two were ever in any danger. The film's ending is a bit of a surprise, but it isn't enough to make up for all the monotony that precedes it. This is one of those movies where some critics will try to convince you that this particular dreary artistic vision is worth you shelling out $10 bucks to witness. Others, like me for instance, say this film is not worth $10. More like $2. Pick up the DVD when it goes on sale cheap if you want the complete trilogy for your collection: “All the Pretty Horses,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road,” all based on three increasingly depressing novels of Cormac McCarthy. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)