The Road sifts through America's post-apocalyptic ashes (1)

The end of the world is no fun at all in The Road. The bedraggled survivors of an unidentified cataclysm possess no mohawks, leather outfits or supersonic dune buggies. A nameless father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, respectively) spend their days struggling to find food in post-apocalyptic America, and have no time for kingly wish-fulfillment fantasies like, say, playing golf with Faberge eggs.

The Proposition’s John Hillcoat directs and co-writes a scrupulously faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s book, possibly the most downbeat and unlikely Oprah novel ever chosen by the daytime demigoddess. As the Coen brothers demonstrated with their adaptation of McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, the author’s spare prose can translate to eloquently straightforward movie dialogue. “One for you, one for me,” the father tells his son in reference to the two remaining bullets in his revolver, while resisting the urge to take the easy way out. The Road’s picaresque episodes dramatize the father’s attempts to keep his son alive in the bleakest possible surroundings without succumbing to savagery.

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(Photo Courtesy 2929/Dimension Films, 2009)