One of the most anticipated screenings here, John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, debuted at Venice Thursday, which is why Variety ran Todd McCarthy's review early this morning. It's a pan. So is Kris Tapley's review. McCarthy hints that Harvey Scissorhands mucked with the movie, which I saw a few weeks ago right after I read the Cormac McCarthy book, which is brilliant, bleak and beautiful. So is the movie, though it is not as horrific as the book. It couldn't be.
Viggo Mortensen--who is getting a tribute here at Telluride-- plays the father trying to protect his son from a lawless vicious world in just the right tough, anxious, fierce, loving way. The movie is stark and horrifying and brutal, visually stunning. It's a tough sell, which is presumably why it took so long in the editing room--I hear that Hillcoat is happy with the end result, as is McCarthy-- and why the Weinstein Co. is opening it wide October 16. The company zigged and zagged on the opening date, trying to line up a release plan for the pic. They drove agent Binky Urban crazy, trying to hook up the right date for the book tie-in. They can probably make the movie look like more of a genre piece and lure some people in that way. But The Road needs delicate special kid-glove handling, not a throw-it-to-the-winds release. Mortensen is awards-worthy--and has a long career and one Oscar nomination behind him-- but he'll need a proper campaign.
Whether or not the movie hits, or makes it into the Oscar top ten, finally, producers are chasing after the Australian director. I also liked his nasty, compelling western The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce and Danny Huston. His latest film, The Wettest Country, is casting now.