Just when it was looking like No Country for Old Men had a monopoly on successful interpretations of Cormac McCarthy's drearily minimalistic prose, production on an adaptation of The Road suggests the possibility of healthy competition. The movie, which recently finished shooting in Pennsylvania and hits theaters in November, remains a wild card until post-production wraps. Nevertheless, if this colorful report from the set in The New York Times offers any indication, The Road appears poised to capture McCarthy's original gloomy lyricism. Reporter Charles McGrath points out the difficulties the filmmakers endured when the weather got too nice and the grass looked too green. In other words, they're working really hard to keep things bleak. The story, about a father and son wandering through desolate landscapes after a cataclysmic event destroys civilization, demands that the dark aura remain intact. However, it wouldn't work without two strong leads, and McGrath implies that with Viggo Mortensen and eleven-year-old Kodi Smit-Mcphee (the next Haley Joel Osment?), that need has been fulfilled.
The best match for The Road, however, is its director, John Hillcoat, whose work on The Proposition proves he's the man for the job. That woefully undervalued western had the intensity of a Sam Peckinpah movie in overdrive, and The Road screams for the same raw, stripped-down approach. It's nice to hear that Hillcoat sees the movie as an antithesis to Mad Max, meaning he wants to eschew cartoony violence in order to create a scarily realistic depiction of post-apocalyptic duress. Bring it on.
[Photo above: Kodi Smit-Mcphee on the set of The Road, courtesy of the New York Times]