This is an amazing piece of work. The main story, about a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), takes place well after an apocalyptic nuclear war. Ecosystems have failed where they walk, possibly globally, and the big problem is finding food and avoiding those who would want to use them as food. This is not an easy picture to see. Everything is stark and soullessly grey. The director (John Hillcoat) chose to film it using the devastated landscape around Mt. St. Helens and on garbage-filled urban settings. What remains of happiness has to be found beneath the surface, in the relationship of the man and boy who are essentially nameless for the entire movie.
I haven’t read the novel by Cormac McCarthy (the screenplay was done by Joe Penhall) but I certainly want to now.
This film is all about the acting. Mortensen is immersed in his character 120%. He obviously starved himself and portrays the protective but practical father impeccably. Kodi Smit-McPhee will be an actor to watch for in the future: he will go far. It was amazing to see a young Australian actor playing an American boy so well and without a hint of an accent. Michael K. Williams plays a brief role as the thief so well that the memory of the encounter with the travelers is seared into my brain. Cameos by Robert Duvall (the Old Man), Guy Pearce (the Veteran) and Charlize Theron (the Mother) and others are superbly done.
The film is difficult to experience but is the most realistic depiction of the effects of a nuclear winter that I have ever seen outside of a documentary. I definitely recommend it.
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