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Review: 'The Road' Co-Staring 13 Year Old Australian Born Kodi Smit-McPee

September 03, 2009

Even more than "No Country for Old Men," with which the Coen brothers showed what is possible artistically and commercially with a McCarthy novel onscreen, "The Road" reads extremely cinematically. Filled almost entirely by spare but vivid physical descriptions of a decimated United States in its death throes after an unexplained catastrophe, and with limited dialogue, the book serves up images and tense situations that practically leap from the page as potential movie scenes.

Some things were obvious: The film's style needed to be as terse, exacting, stripped-down, tough and precise as McCarthy's prose style. The picture also should have been shocking, haunting and, at the end, deeply moving. As it is, director John Hillcoat ("The Proposition") and lenser Javier Aguirresarobe have come up with some arresting scorched-earth vistas captured on locations in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Oregon, but have missed the bigger picture almost entirely.

It's a survival story in the most elemental possible way, as an unnamed man and boy, about 11, trudge daily through a dark world of barren forests with falling trees, torched towns and vandalized stores, empty roads and depleted fields, in search of food and shelter, all the while taking care to avoid roving gangs searching for defenseless humans to be turned into slaves or, more likely, dinner. Read More