The first on-set image has appeared from The Road, the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel, directed by John Hillcoat. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (the unfortunately named kid who was in Romulus, My Father with Eric Bana).
The Road is a truly excellent book. It is a searing and brutal tale of a ravaged world. It follows a father and son who are struggling across (what’s left of) America, making their way to the coast, but not knowing what, if any, relief this will bring. The road they are following is beset with wandering hordes of survivors – pitiful wretches and cannibals alike. They have just a rickety wheelbarrow to carry their paltry possessions, as they fight against conditions which includes a constant rain of ash, bitter cold and a scorched landscape.
It’s safe to say that Correct Opinion is really looking forward to this film. Director John Hillcoat has proven with The Proposition that he can show a wretched and tough world. His Australian outback was dusty and cruel, its characters hardened and its settings dirty and uncomfortable.
While the physical backdrop to The Road will no doubt be striking, if it follows the book then little to no explanation will be given as to why the world is in this state. The focus is on the plight of these two survivors, father and son (Charlize Theron is cast as the wife, but may not have a huge role to play), so much rests on their performances.
Mortensen is an excellent choice, being one of only three actors we can imagine perfecting the role (the other two between Daniel Day Lewis and Christian Bale). If you thought he was tough and rugged as Aragorn, then you really should see him as soldier-turned-mercenary in Alatriste, the Spanish language film where his physical commitment to the role was astonishing. The image above is certainly a good indication of what to expect.
Much will depend on the relatively-unknown Smit-McPhee. His character in the book is heartbreaking, at times so young and scared, then very mature and knowing in the face of his plight. If done well, it could be a classic child performance.
If you haven’t read The Road yet, go do so. Like No Country For Old Men, it can be tough going (McCarthy doesn’t believe in conventional use of punctuation, syntax or sentence, paragraph and chapter structure!) but ultimately very rewarding. Then you can say you read the book long before the film was out!