Friday, 4 September 2009

Venice 2009: A quick trip down The Road

Just got out of The Road and thought I'd post my immediate reaction before disappearing into a press conference, a screening of Tetsuo The Bullet Man, and then either another movie (Jessica Hausner's Lourdes) or a spell at the computer working. But back to The Road which certainly seems to have polarised critics if the initial reactions are anything to go by.

"This Road leads nowhere," writes Variety's Todd McCarthy. "If you're going to adapt a book like Cormac McCarthy's 2006 bestseller, you're pretty much obliged to make a terrific film or it's not worth doing — first because expectations are high, and second, because the picture needs to make it worth people's while to sit through something so grim. Except for the physical aspects of this bleak odyssey by a father and son through a post-apocalyptic landscape, this long-delayed production falls dispiritingly short on every front. Showing clear signs of being test-screened and futzed with to death, the Dimension release may receive a measure of respect in some quarters but is very, very far from the film it should have been, spelling moderate to tepid B.O. prospects after big fest preems."

By contrast, Screen's Fionnuala Halligan was much more upbeat. "As heartbreaking on screen as it was on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-prize winning pages, The Road is an almost unbearably sad film, beautifully arranged and powerfully acted – a tribute to the array of talents involved. There is so much in this picture, from dread, horror, to suspense, bitterly moving love, extraordinary, Oscar-worthy art direction and a desperate lead performance from Viggo Mortensen which perfectly illustrates the wrenching desperation of parental love. But its hopelessness will make The Road hard going for general audiences: critical and awards support are vital to its commercial success or failure and even still The Road will be a challenge.

I'm more in Screen's camp than Variety. I found it very good but grim (pretty much what I expected, then), beautifully crafted and intensely moving, anchored by a powerful performance by Viggo Mortensen. I hope to have a proper review up later today — it all depends on whether I squeeze in that extra film — but that's it for now.


Gerard said...

A tip of the cap for your efforts.

Mark Salisbury said...

Grazie mille!

Full review will be up tomorrow. Just out of one film and off to another one in a minute.