The Road quickly starts out with an unknown cataclysm that has destroyed almost everything alive. Only a low number of humans have survived. All vegetation is dead, there are no animals alive, and the environment is a heap of gray dust. From what you get to see from the scenes that show the landscape, it looks like some big explosion occurred, damaging the atmosphere, and obscuring the sun. We never get to know what happened exactly, but it doesn’t really matter for the story.
The story follows a father and his teenage son through their travels heading south were it’s warmer and were there’s probably still some “good guys” left. They’re basically surviving, looking for food, and avoiding the “bad guys”. Other humans that survived have opted to cannibalism as their only method to survival. The father and son look like some New York bums carrying a battered down shopping cart with some supplies like blankets.
The backstory is difficult to tell. From what you can see from the flashbacks, some time passes before things “get worse”. Perhaps some months before the resources start running out. The flashback scenes show the family in their house, using candles and worried about what could happen.
I don’t want to give anymore details so as not to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet. All I’ll say is that it’s been a while since the last time I’ve seen something so gripping. Something that really pulled me in. The film is based on the Comac McCarthy novel by the same name. McCarthy is also the author of No Country for Old Men which was also a critically acclaimed book as well as the film by the Coen Brothers.
What the story really is a moral play. Can humanity still be found in a place where there’s literally no humanity left? What one will do for his child? How long will it take for one to turn into a “bad guy” without even realizing it? You can see these themes being played out when the father explains to his kid that they’re the good guys. “Are you sure were still the good guys papa?” the son asks. “Sure we are” the father replies, but his face shows that he’s not so sure anymore.
There’s one school of philosophy that says that man is basically good. There’s another that says that man is basically evil. This film, like life, shows that it’s not so simple. Brutal, intense, sad, and a beautiful film that I recommend you go rent right this moment.
Sidenote: It’s there a clause in Viggo Mortensen acting contracts that says he has to show his ass in every new movie he appears in?