Hillcoat's movie is a resounding triumph. Stunning landscape photography sets the melancholy mood, and Nick Cave's wrenching score reinforces it. But it is the performances that ultimately hold the film together.
Hillcoat certainly provides the requisite seriousness, but what the movie lacks is an underlying sense of innocence, a sense that, however far humanity has sunk, there is at least some chance of rising again.
In this haunting portrait of America as no country for old men or young, Hillcoat -- through the artistry of Mortensen and Smit-McPhee -- carries the fire of our shared humanity and lets it burn bright and true.
You hang on to yourself for dear life, resisting belief as best you can in the face of powerful acting, persuasive filmmaking and the perversely compelling certainty that nothing will turn out all right.
Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning, Oprah-endorsed, post-apocalyptic survivalist prose poem... was a quick, lacerating read. John Hillcoat's literal adaptation is, by contrast, a long, dull slog.
Viggo Mortensen plays "The Man" (in the anonymous, Everyman sense, not in the "Stick it to the..." blaxploitation sense). Charlize Theron is "Wife." Kodi Smit-McPhee is "The Boy." And I'm The Audience, and I'm annoyed.
Director John Hillcoat has performed an admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale, even at the cost of sacrificing color, big scenes and standard Hollywood imagery.