Fuck the pun about “the long and winding road” to the release of The Road that I was originally going to use to open this piece (note that I still managed to slip it in though- that’s fucking writing). Instead I’ll simply state that after many delays (including a quiet one this last week), The Road is nearing wide release. The Risky Biz Blog has run a number of comments from stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Telluride visit, though they cite (as did I, till now) the October 16th release date that was changed this week to November 25th. According to Variety, some 1,250 to 1,500 theaters will be running the film- a hell of a lot more than I ever honestly expected. I hope these are moves of confidence.
The bulk of the quotes in Risky Biz concern Mortensen (honored at Telluride) and his intense method approach to roles. However, The Road director John Hillcoat is quoted as saying,
“…And I was very pleased with the reaction in Venice. That’s all you can ask for, really. That, and of course, Cormac’s approval. He gave it a thumbs up.”
…which is lovely to hear. Isolated incidents of bullshit aside, much of what has been coming out about the film sounds wonderful. It is certainly going to look great.
2007 was a year in which many of the great movies seemed to be comprised of an interminable bleakness. The Road is obviously a child of that season, and while it may not top those notable films, it may very well manage to be a perfect (if tardy) punctuation mark on that trend. A lot of stars aligned two years ago, and the true psychological and emotional weight that bore down on America’s shoulders came out in our cinema. It was a wonderful and wearying thing to watch the movies do their part in our cultural processing of the terrorism era. Hell, even then we knew in our hearts that our economy was for shit, and that sense of foreboding was just as present as any war commentary.
What remains to be seen is if this economic downturn is going to cause another gray era in America. A definitive embrace of progressivism* aside, our country’s resolve is going to be thoroughly tested in the years to come. The media is looking for any sign possible to declare The Great Recession over, even though our recovery is likely to be W-shaped as opposed to V-shaped. Even the bullshit signs of recovery we have now are, at best, precursors to another violent dip in economic fortune**. If this is the case, at least we’ll get more good movies out of it.
Either way- what made 2007 great, is that the better films followed a nontraditional pattern, foregoing the bombastic and explosively destructive apocalypses. Instead of the typical American impulse to jack off to imagery of dramatic obliteration, some of the better films gave us a future that revealed a slow, progressive decline into dystopia. This is a positively British idea, and extra frightening when you consider it an expression of post-empire irrelevance. Popular American cinema would have us think our theoretical end is going to be glorious and memorable, full of fiery money-shots, instead of the much more likely slow-burn into wretchedness. If the power of the novel is at all present in Hillcoat’s film, then we may very well see the scariest reaction to America’s possible downfall yet put to screen.
Source | The Risky Biz Blog, The Road Trailer – Blogspot, Variety
* It’s a word now.
**…and they aren’t even that. If you’ve heard any positive statistics about our economy in the last six months, they were more than likely spun, misinterpreted, or made up.