Each awards season, some movies rise above expectations – even above their means – to achieve glory, and others fade from awareness almost immediately. Occasionally, there’s nothing wrong with these movies; they’re just released at the wrong time, promoted poorly or struck by fate. One such film is The Road, the Viggo Mortensen drama-thriller that was destined for great things but never got the recognition it deserved.
The Road had everything going for it: the movie was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book; that book was written by Cormac McCarthy, the author of another Oscar winner, No Country for Old Men; it starred Viggo Mortensen, an Oscar-nominated actor; was about a post-apocalyptic world; had a prime November release date; and it was garnering positive reviews.
OK, it didn’t have everything going for it: the movie had been suspiciously pushed back a few times, suggesting production problems; and the Weinstein brothers, for some reason, decided to abandon the film come December, instead opting to focus their Oscar campaign on the dismal musical Nine. As a result, the admittedly depressing movie, which had a budget of only $20 million (not bad for a futuristic thriller set in a devastated world), earned only $8 million in theaters – a total that, with the right marketing, should have been overcome in a matter of days, if not less.
Thankfully, the movie should prove to be more popular on DVD and Blu-Ray when it is released this Tuesday, May 25, 2010. The Road isn’t perfect, but given the nature of the book – one of my all-time favorites – I never expected it to be. The story is less about plot than it is about the relationship between a man and his son, and as a result there are some literary moments that are lost in the conversion to the big screen. Still, director John Hillcoat delivers a fine adaptation, with beautifully depressing scenery, a world that mirrors what Cormac McCarthy described in his book and some tense moments. More than anything else, The Road features yet another extraordinary performance by Viggo Mortensen – another victim of the Weinsteins’ abandonment of the movie. Had the film received the promotion it deserved, it’s likely Mortensen would have been nominated for an Oscar for his performance here.
You can read a full movie review of The Road here.
As expected for a movie that only made $8 million in theaters, The Road DVD doesn’t include many special features. Aside from the theatrical trailers, the disc includes director’s commentary, a few deleted scenes and a short making-of featurette. The deleted scenes are worthwhile, though nothing spectacular; the making-of featurette, however, is worth watching. It unfortunately doesn’t provide much insight into the overall production, but does tease at how the picture was put together (little CGI was done – the rest was filmed on location) and features some decent interviews with the cast.
It would have been nice to see a lengthier making-of featurette for a movie like this, but again, you can’t expect much from a box office flop.
The DVD itself doesn’t have a lot to offer, but The Road is a well-done movie that is definitely worth seeing.