The Road – a damn fine journey

the road, movie poster

Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road can breathe easy — the movie is a damn fine adaptation.

In fact, it’s probably one of the best that I’ve seen.

The mood of the book is perfectly captured on-screen, thanks to wonderful sets depicting the ruins of civilisation and the death of nature. Abandoned cities, broken roadways littered with wrecked cars, devastated forests, wildfires and electrical storms all show the grim future. The actual event is barely mentioned, no blame apportioned. It just is.

As in the book, the movie does not provide a strict narrative journey, but rather a series of vignettes marking the progress of a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) through this blasted landscape, with flashbacks to the father’s life with his wife (Charlize Theron) before, during and after the calamity fell.

On the road, father and son have to dodge cannibal gangs while they head south, every day a search for warmth, shelter and food. Other stray travellers they meet are viewed with suspicion, providing a crux for the film’s thematic centre.

I felt a little let down by the conclusion in the book, but the movie, while changing it only slightly, manages with deft subtlety to make it work, and work brilliantly. Likewise there are some minor changes to events in the novel, but none are jarring, and all work to enhance the on-screen story.

There were some likely lads in our theatre who might have been expecting some kind of Mad Max/Cyborg storyline, and I suspect by their chatting and quick departure that they left disappointed by this thoughtful portrayal of the hopelessness and drudgery of life on the road. Or maybe they’d got the wrong cinema and only stayed in the hope of Theron getting her kit off — more disappointment, there, boys. But my goodness, doesn’t she just chew up the camera?

The casting (including Guy Pearce and Robert Duvall) was uniformally superb, some actors almost indistinguishable underneath their soot and grime and filthy teeth.

A soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis enhanced the tone without being overly dramatic or sentimental, the camera work was striking without being flashy; there was nothing not to like about this movie.

Director John Hillcoat has delivered an amazing reading of McCarthy’s novel that both readers and non should enjoy.

Top five in five

Newly arrived music on the stereo, in five words or less:

spinnerette album by spinnerette

Sketchbook 3, Johnette Napolitano: experiments in gentle heart surgery

Spinnerette, Spinnerette: spunky distillation spiced with Brody

Four on the Floor, Juliet and the Licks: natural born killer rock

The Definitive Collection, Nena: popping 80s highs, auf Deutsch

In This Light and On This Evening, Editors: glorious synths of gloom

Gargoyles of Brisbane

frowning gargoyle on brisbane building

Gargoyles in Brisbane? Who’d a thunkit!

Poor old Brissie aka Brizvegas aka my former hometown of the past 11 years is often criticised for not being city enough, as if a million souls and traffic snarls aren’t requirement enough. As if being a city is something to be desired, some badge of achievement. Hm.

Anyway, on a recent return, I was chuffed to find gargoyles adorning a fine old stone building on George Street — it’s a key administration road, lots of suits and government offices, which is probably why I’ve not noticed this edifice before, or at least not got around to taking pictures. This dude has a buddy, too, a smiling companion keeping an eye on the passersby, and another couple of buddies as well, watching over the front door and windows.

UPDATE: Here is some information about these ‘devils’ at the Government Printer building

There’s another building, a self-proclaimed manor or somesuch, with a fine array of lions and griffins, but alas, my photographic eye didn’t quite roam that far on this trip, though I did snap the weather-beaten cat aloft on a building near my gargoyle find. There might be others? Anyone?

The point of this being, if a place has got theatres and cafes and more ‘foreign’ dining options than a Chinese takeaway and a Pizza Hut, AND gargoyles, honestly, what more do you need?? Anyway, good on ya, Brissie, for keeping the gargoyles aloft. Lord knows you’ve lost enough of your architectural heritage. Long may these dudes reign!