Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road, is one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Both story and prose are gorgeous and I enjoyed every moment of reading it. The film adaptation wants so badly to do it justice I ached for its failure to do so. The beauty of the novel lies in the fluid mixture of poetic language and gripping story. The film couldn't possibly achieve as much as the novel. It's too bad because as far as I'm concerned, the filmmakers did everything right. They had the right cast, they made their locations look dreary and dead, and they scripted the story well, only embellishing what a film required them to embellish. It just isn't the same.
Don't misunderstand, it wasn't a bad film. It was quite moving, I wept my eyes out at the end. But the novel was so much more than what the film could deliver, I couldn't help but be disappointed.
I wasn't bored (as many IMDb posters who haven't read the novel seem to have been). Watching Viggo Mortensen tie his shoelaces for two hours probably could't bore me. He disappears into the skin of each character he plays so seamlessly you meet him anew in every film in which he appears. I'm not watching Aragorn, or A History of Violence's Tom Stall (Joey), or creepy Russian creepster Nikolai from Eastern Promises. It's The Man from The Road. No question.
The other performances were also stellar. Robert Duvall was almost impossible to recognize and Guy Pearce played his part right on the edge of trustworthy - just as the character demanded. Charlize Theron was also good in a role made bigger for the film. She had less than anyone to go on and yet her character fit perfectly into this world.
It was a nobel adaptation attempt. If I had never read the book, perhaps I would have adored the film. But this is Cormac McCarthy's story and deserves to be experienced Cormac McCarthy's chosen way. If you haven't already, read the book. Seriously.