Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble): A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.

I first read The Road last September. I was a member of this informal book club that met at a local indie bookstore. Instead of assigned reading, everyone just showed up with books they felt like talking about. The shop’s owner, Sara, read a few random lines from the Road. I bought it the next day.

I started reading it at 6:42AM on a Saturday. I had to put it down, sixty minutes later, when I went into work: six or seven hours of torture in which I was not reading. I might have eaten when I got home. I might not have. I curled up on one end of my couch and picked up where I left off. I read while the sun dipped and the shadows lengthened. I didn’t bother turning on a lamp. There was just enough light to read by when I got to the last page.

I closed the book.

I felt queasy and a little bit like someone had repeatedly punched me in the stomach over the course of the afternoon. It was one of the most haunting and disturbing books I’d read. Like a member in some sort of literary pyramid scheme, I talked three other people into reading it.
Then I waited, anxiously, for the movie.

  • Would they try to explain the apocalypse? (One of my favourite things about the book is that you never know just what happened to crack the world.)
  • Would they wedge in too much backstory?
  • How the heck could you make a movie as bleak as The Road and trust that the general movie going public would go see it?
    What was up with postponing the release date for over a year?

A few nights ago, I finally got to see the movie and was pleasantly surprised. While The Road is more impactful as a book—the punch-in-the-gut feeling comes as much from Cormac McCarthy’s prose as it does the events that take place—the film was a remarkably faithful adaptation.

Little changes and allowances were made (as they always must be) but all seemed necessary. The greater role of the Woman (which I worried about) provided a nice visual and emotional contrast to the world on screen. The cinematography was bleak and the actors looked amazingly filthy. I watched one scene with my hand over my eyes as I muttered a string of profanity-laced variations of “do not go in there”.

My only criticism was that I didn’t like the ending of the film as much as I did the ending of the book but I can see why parts of it were changed.

The Road is well worth seeing and I feel it’s important to support filmmakers who obviously have a great deal of respect for the source material they’re bringing to the screen.

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