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McCarthy's road to hell is paved with seriously good intentions

The Road

Cert 16

THE Road is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed dystopian novel, but it bears many of the hallmarks of a disaster movie as delivered by the imagination of Al Gore. Think Mad Max meets An Inconvenient Truth for a reasonably accurate depiction of the post-apocalyptic hell-realm revealed in this thriller. OK, so there isn't any sign of Gore's infamous polar bears but that's only because, as a voiceover tells us, "there are no crops and all the animals are long gone".

What remains after this unnamed seismic event is a planet in ecological meltdown mode. Infernos spring up for no reason, dramatic electric storms strafe the skyline. Surviving humans are a rarity, with many having chosen to commit suicide rather than face the implications of this global holocaust.

Two such exceptions are The Man ( Viggo Mortenson) and his 10-year-old son, The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee). What little we know of these two is revealed in flashbacks that chronicle a previous life with Charlize Theron as the third member of their family. Starving and bedraggled, the movie follows their journey along the road as they struggle to make their way south in the hope that things might be different on the coast. Survival instincts are very much to the fore in a world where morality has broken down, cannibalism is widespread and armed militias stalk the land. Needless to say, a happy ending is not too high up the scale of probability.

The Road is required viewing for those who take their cinema-going seriously. Just be aware that feel-good fare it most certainly isn't. Excellent performances and the hauntingly poetic visuals are beyond criticism but the overall spectacle is compromised a little by a bleakness that borders on the indulgent and gratuitous. This is Beckett without the one-liners, Dante without any hope of redemption. It is strangely compelling though.


The Road opens on Friday

Post Grad

Cert 12A

Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) is 22, has just graduated and is full of hope for the future. However, she can't find a job, moves back in with her parents and feels even worse because every one of her contemporaries seems to be having stunning success. Her friend Adam (Zach Gilford) tries to console her because he's nice, and because he's mad about her. She doesn't fully understand the depths of his passion, and she doesn't feel the same way. So she hooks up with the neighbour (Rodrigo Santoro) and Adam's heart is broken.

Post Grad is inoffensive, and this is its biggest weakness. It's a good idea, the notion of not being able to fulfil your dreams, of graduation not being an automatic key to success, is a good one. However the delivery is very weak, ending up being a lazily constructed story. It's Little Miss Sunshine without the edge or fully fledged nuttiness. Ryden is a beacon of normality in her family, which contains the wacky, slightly failed dad (Michael Keaton), the wacky, slightly cranky granny (Carol Burnett), the wacky, slightly harassed mother (Jane Lynch) and the wacky, slightly bonkers little brother.

The love-triangle aspect fails because of a lack of chemistry, and because the bloke we're supposed to be rooting for isn't nearly as attractive as the bloke against whom he vies for Ryden's attentions. Post Grad is watchable and inoffensive but it's not nearly as clever or funny as it could have been given the cast and ideas behind it.


Post Grad is now showing

Sunday Independent