Dimension Films is one of the producers of this bleak movie, an unlikely source as the company was originally conceived as Miramax’s genre arm. While this is a genre film – science fiction – it is clearly not one that will have a large appeal. There are one or two Mad Max moments but mostly the film follows Cormac McCarthy’s novel fairly faithfully; that is to say, it’s grim. It’s not primarily a commercial movie, though of course was designed to make money, so what the film brings to the novel is a valid question as it hasn’t simply been made as a business deal. McCarthy’s book is a brilliant depiction of a post-Apocalyptic world where people commit suicide rather than live in such inhospitable surroundings. Most obviously, film can depict the environment which Hillcoat, and his designers, do with some brilliance. Even the CGI looks convincing as its unreal sheen works in this unreal world.
Most films require pacing to keep the audience interesting; when reading a novel if attention flags then the book can be put down. McCarthy’s novel had plenty of suspense throughout and these scenes work in the film very well to maintain interest. Less successful is the fleshing out of (if I remember correctly) the scenes with the Mother (the characters have archetypal names); though the colours of the pre-Apocalyptic world do contrast brilliantly with the grey morass of most of the film. I also don’t remember earthquakes in the book – added for drama? During the end credits we hear what sounds a bit like normal life; given that McCarthy offers some hope at the end then this was unnecessary.
The most disgusting human behaviour is missing from the film, which is probably a good thing as a visualisation of eating a baby is something I’m happy not to see.
There are potent cameos from Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce (he needs to be in more films) and, although I’m not recommending it as a Friday night movie, I am recommending as a film that reminds us to make the most of what we’ve got and to warn against where climate change may be taking us.