“The Road”: Cormac McCarthy’s Version of Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World”?

Slate recently reviewed the film version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and reported that watching it is—how shall I put this politiely?—emotionally problematic: 

The Boy and Man on the road, nameless in the long-dead world. Their cart and tarp and tins of food sole bulwark against the growing cold. Stark tale of human love against the gray scrim of ruin. When the time comes, can you film it? . . . The Road is . . . a shattering experience: You walk out of the theater sweaty and shaking. . . . Unless you’re far better at walling yourself off from identification than I am, you walk out in a state of untreated shock. Rather than thinking about the movie afterward, you wait for it to wear off.

A clang in the film? The music apparently sucks (I got the same impression from the trailer):

For everything the movie gets right—most notably the impressively pared-down script by Joe Penhall and the two truthful and fearless performances from Mortensen and McPhee—there’s a corresponding painful blunder, like the overwrought score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The Australian singer-songwriter is a friend and collaborator of Hillcoat’s, and his score does everything that Penhall’s austere script doesn’t. Instead of countering McCarthy’s occasional tendency to excess, the music reinforces it. Situations that we already have the good sense to feel awful about—protecting one’s son from marauding flesh-eaters, passing a row of skulls impaled on sticks, coughing blood into the snow—are gooped up with sawing string music. Theron’s character, it’s established early on, was a pianist; her absence would register as more painful if every scene involving her didn’t feature a plinking piano in the background.

It sounds to me like The Road  might be a dark version of this Helen Reddy song from the 1970s. Much darker:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to “The Road”: Cormac McCarthy’s Version of Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World”?

  1. Marly says:

    I haven’t seen the movie yet. Maybe I should be content to wait for it to come out on netflix. We find there’s very few movies that have to be seen in the theatre, so we usually just wait. Thanks for your review. I loved the book!

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