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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'The Road's' Oscar chances take a big dive

The Road Having just read Variety critic Todd McCarthy's brutal takedown of "The Road" today, I'm guessing that Oscar watchers everywhere are checking this movie off their prime best picture contender list. The long-delayed movie, adapted from Cormac McCarthey's 2006 bestseller, was supposed to be the Weinstein Co.'s top Oscar candidate this year (along with "Nine," its Rob Marshall-directed musical). But it's hard to imagine a prestige film, which is poised to make its debut at a string of upcoming fall film festivals, getting a worse review so early in awards season.

McCarthy doesn't beat around the bush. He begins his review by saying: "This 'Road' leads nowhere,'' going on to say that the movie "falls dispiritingly short on every front, showing clear signs of being test-screened and futzed with to death." The film is set in a post-apocalyptic rural America, with a father and son wandering the barren landscape, fending off many unfriendly marauders. But according to McCarthy, the film's director, John Hillcoat, "just hopscotches from scene to scene in almost random fashion without any sense of pacing or dramatic modulation." As for Viggo Mortensen, who plays the lead role, McCarthy says he "lacks the gravitas to carry the picture; suddenly resembling Gabby Hayes with his whiskers and wayward hair."

Despite the wonderful treatment McCarthy got from the Coen brothers with "No Country for OId Men," it sounds like lightning is not poised to strike twice.

Image: From "The Road." Credit: Macall Polay / Dimension Films

Comments () | Archives (23)

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I didn't realize Todd McCarthy had that much power.

I read many very favorable reviews of The Road today - The Independent, The Guardian, to name two. Even at least one Hollywood Reporter writer loved it. McCarthy's was the strongest negative review out there. While there were some other less-than-positive reviews, McCarthy was alone in slashing the movie in that way.

So you're trumpeting this bad review to further the demise of the film and then prove your prediction correct? Got it.

It is as easy to criticize as it is hard to write. -AB

First off, the book does not lead somewhere. It is a journey of survival. No one knows where anyplace is. It is a walk of the living dead.
The destitution is revealed in the protaganists persona. A grubby fellow in the throes of staying alive each day is one who does not need vanity How can a critic know the depth of what can possibly be gathered after a stripping of normal life? I would not take this review to my heart but create my own evaluation after I see the film. The book was brilliant and compelling.

Just quickly: is there not a note of hypocrisy in posting the lament "Do we really have to talk about the Oscars already?" on Sep 1 and then posting 'The Road's' Oscar chances take a big dive' on Sep 3? I'd say I sympathize more with the former post.

Well, if McCarthy liked No Country, then I can logically conclude that "The Road" will probably be a great film to watch. Anyone who liked "No Country" is not a person whose opinion I respect in any way, shape or form.

Having seen a rough cut I can say I agree with his assessment. There are some really harrowing scenes, but the majority of the movie falls flat. There's almost no development given to Charlise Theron's character. Instead she exists in short flashbacks. It gives you the sense they could only afford her for a few days of filming. I don't blame Viggo in fact he carries some of the more intense scenes very well. People always seem to hold talented actors responsible for bad screenwriting; I guess it's only fair because on the flip-side they afford them all the accolades when a film is actually good. The root concept is very intriguing, this could have been a very good film.

Just a thought about bad reviews: I can recall two movies that were savaged by 'prominent' critics upon their release, a duo that nonetheless had rather successful 'careers' at theaters all over this country and around the world. They would be 'Bonnie and Clyde' and 'The Sound of Music'. I'm sure other readers can add many, many more titles to this abbreviated list. So, rancid reviews are not necessarily the last word in determining the success of a movie.

Horrible news. Unfortunate that spectacular material like this is put in the hands of buffoons.

Did the reviewer read the book? Because it to skips randomly from scene to scene. Under any circumstances this would be a very difficult book to film. As for the acting, sounds like the reviewer had a preconceived opinion.

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