Sunday, May 17, 2009

Road to nowhere?

The long-anticipated trailer to the long-anticipated The Road finally emerged last week, with the film seeming ... promising. Cormac McCarthy's novel won the Pulitzer. Still, the movie was supposed to be released in 2008. A delay, obviously, isn't a good sign, but it's not necessarily a harbinger of doom, either.

One of the more intriguing questions when discussing The Road is "Who is John Hillcoat?" -- as in, who's this dude slated to direct dudes like Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron*?

*OK, she's not really a dude, unless you're referring to this monster-ous role.

And then God (On Demand) answered with The Proposition, a 2005 Australian import and one of only three films (and the most recent) in Hillcoat's directorial filmography.

This is our concern, dude, because The Proposition ain't all that great.

(Pic from

Strangely enough, this Western wowed critics with its story of a brooding Aussie outlaw (Guy Pearce) accepting a brooding Aussie copper's (Ray Winstone) deal of turning in his vicious, brooding gang-leader brother (Danny Huston) in order to save their meek younger brother (Richard Wilson; who doesn't do a whole lot of brooding because he's busy bawling).

Like I said, there's a whole lot of staring, a whole lot of emoting, a whole lot of philosophizing (and sure, considerable violence) -- but almost none of it comes with much narrative grab; you keep wanting to care about these characters, but even the sympathetic ones' plights are overdone and thus, not all that interesting.

OK, so labeling this a Hillcoat-related concern isn't necessarily fair, as a director's early efforts don't necessarily predict a lack of potential greatness (Martin Scorsese did Boxcar Bertha, after all, which screamed "change the channel!" after about three minutes). Hillcoats feel for the visual clearly is keen. Really, most of the problems stem from musician Nick Cave's script, where the dialogue isn't all that sharp and several scenes seem forced.

So let's hope Hillcoat got a good one with The Road, and it ends up as more than Viggo, et al staring off into space for 120 minutes while emotive music plays and wind blows and flies buzz.

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