Cormac McCarthy’s haunting novel The Road gets the Hollywood treatment this week. For those unfamiliar with the Pulitzer-prize winner and Oprah’s Book Club selection (don’t hold that against it), it tells the story of a father and son roaming the remains of North America after an unexplained cataclysm turns everything to sooty ash. The story is as grin as it sounds and then some. Some of the material is hard to stomach but this isn’t Mad Max or Terminator. At its beating heart, this is a story about the sustaining power of love, especially the love of parent and child.
The film, starring Viggo Mortensen and Robert Duvall, has earned an R rating, likely because its depictions of cannibalism, which is constantly looming presence in the book. This may turn off many viewers and it’s a shame really. Nothing in the book warranted a R; even the most gruesome details were only fleetingly mentioned. Unfortunately, this means many parents will not watch this film with their children. Fortunately, there is always the book. And, as everyone says, the book is usually better than the movie.
I give The Road my highest recommendation. The prose is incredible. The arc of the relationship between the Man and the Boy is both epic and incredibly intimate. More importantly, The Road places family at the very center of man’s survival. It highlights the co-dependent relationship between parent and child- child needs parent for physical succor, but parent needs child for salvation. This book easily made my top 5 of all time list.
So, if you’re willing to brave the R rating, the story and the essence may still be intact, but visually you may get more than you bargained for. If you’d rather just read the book, I guarantee you a beautiful, sobering, exciting, and thought-provoking read.