(director: John Hillcoat; screenwriter: Joe Penhall/from a novel by Cormac McCarthy; cinematographer: Javier Aguirreesarobe; editor: Jon Gregory; music: Nick Cave/Warren Ellis; cast: Viggio Mortensen (Man), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Boy), Robert Duvall (Old Man), Guy Pearce (Veteran), Molly Parker (Motherly Woman), Michael Kenneth Williams (Thief), Garret Dillahunt (Gang Member), Charlize Theron (Woman, the Boy’s screen mom); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Nick Wechsler/Paula Mae Schwartz/Steve Schwartz; Dimension Films; 2009)

“Unpleasantpost-apocalyptic drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Hillcoat (“The Proposition”) directs this unpleasantpost-apocalyptic drama.Viggio Mortensen and his 10-year-old son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who was born after the cataclysmic events, travel together in America over a gray barren landscape, with no crops or animal. To beat the cold, they trek southwards (to Florida’s Golden Coast) in search of a warmer climate. While struggling for survival on their road trip, with only a pistol to defend themselves, the duo battle against the cold, hunger, bad dudes, cannibalistic marauders and unimaginable horrors. The road was too bleak and hard of an ordeal to sit through for this viewer, especially since there wasn’t any dramatic tension–just a long, artless trek in a dark world. Its life lessons fell on deaf ears. Its mysticism didn’t register. Its many parables on the journey, seemed problematic.

It’s based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning book byCormac McCarthy. It’s written by Joe Penhall, who fails to make an unfilmable book filmable. Though the actors acquit themselves well and cinematographer Javier Aguirreesarobe’s photography of the ashen landscape is imaginative, the unrelenting grim mood is a bummer.

REVIEWED ON 6/15/2011 GRADE: C +