As far as apocalyptic movies go, this is a lot better than sitting through Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow. And yet, John Hillcoat’s largely faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s text proves unsatisfying. Hillcoat and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe have successfully recreated the barren, grey, burnt out landscape described of the book, Mortensen is admirable as the man journeying with his son (Kodi-Smit-Mcphee) and it’s bleak in a way that Hollywood rarely dares to be. However, it isn’t quite bleak enough – insufficient dead bodies on the road, no barbecued baby, and there is a dog that comes straight out of Disney. The flashbacks featuring his wife (Charlize Theron) are padded out with a tension that focuses in on the question whether life is worth living when hope dies. In the novel this dilemma revolves around faith in God, a pertinent aspect of a story written and published in the aftermath of 9/11. Even with an overused voiceover this adaptation is at times frustratingly more about the physical rather than existential journey and the omission of God as a character loses the commentary on personal faith and religion in America that is central to the author’s writing.
General release from Fri 8 Jan.