21 January 2010


I grinned inanely when I saw it in "The Showroom" programme for January. Did they really mean me? Am I really that old? On Thursday mornings, they were offering people aged over fifty five the opportunity to attend an early film showing plus a coffee and a piece of cake in the bar - all for a mere £4. Today's film was "The Road" (2009) directed by John Hillcoat.

So I took to the "road" and left our house at 9.30, striding out down Ecclesall "Road" and all the way into the city centre - 2.6 miles to be precise. The Showroom was teeming with over fifty-fives - all of them looking old enough to be my parents! Did I miscount the years somewhere along the line or had I entered a time warp? Or I'm the new Dorian Gray!

Anyway - the film. I thought it was brilliant. I accepted it for what it was having never read Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. By all accounts, it's a brilliantly disturbing book that is both desolate and, in parts, horrifying.
What I saw was a post-apocalyptic struggle to survive. No sunshine. No colour. Only vestiges of the world we inhabit remained - abandoned petrol stations, stripped supermarkets, decaying roads. Civilisation was well on the way to total evaporation with gangs of marauding cannibals scouring the countryside for prey. "The good guys" were hard to find.
Travelling south through all this ugliness and desperation are a man and a boy. The man is played by Viggo Mortensen and the boy by Kodi Smit-McPhee. I couldn't fault them - fantastically convincing performances and both roles called for enormous emotional commitment and understatement.
At the end of the film, the man is dead but on a windswept beach the boy finds a ragamuffin family to help him along the next stretch of "road". It's a hopeful message in a film that is so bleak.
It all somehow reminded me of Samuel Becket's existential "The Endgame" and "Waiting for Godot" with a sprinkling of "The Book of Dave" by Will Self and King Lear on the heath. Visions of a world stripped bare - "Nobody comes. Nobody goes." Yet ultimately, I don't see "The Road" as a vision of some hopeless future nor do I see it as a parable for mankind - a sort of warning shot across our globally warmed bows. It's just a story - an imagined story of a father and his son - travelling on through a nightmare world - trying to reach somewhere better and trying to hang on to their core decency and hope. It's all in the eyes of the beholder but for me this was a superb five-star film and so I recommend it to you.
Afterwards, I walked home along "the road", stopping at the Moorfoot Fisheries for fish and chips in the rear seating area. The whirlwind of a waitress pointed at the laminated "Pensioner's Special" notices. "I'm not that old!" I half snarled. "Oh no, I didn't mean that love," she said. "Anybody can have it". And so for £3.70 I enjoyed fish and chips with the obligatory mushy peas, a slice of bread and butter and a pot of tea. I guess I must be the last of the big spenders!


  1. I skimmed the book - it was excellent but i knew if I got into it I'd be terribly distressed by it. My kids are too close to that age for me to enjoy it. I've become a real wimp since having kids.

  2. It is indeed a very moving film. I found the views of England frankly disturbing - my image of post-apocraphyl life have always been very dewy-eyed and a mix of allotments and sunshine, strong communities and old-fashioned board games by candlelight. This film shook me up!

  3. I am grinning as I write this...golfing last summer I was asked by the man in the pro shop if I was eligible for the senior rate. Turned out, i was not eligible at that particular course, but at some others, I am. That's one good thing about the Nicklaus courses - if you are 50 and eligible for the Senior Tour, you get the senior rate. We're entering into a new demographic, Yorkie.
    I read "The Road," and it was a very dark story, but it was worth the read. The hardest part for me was getting used to the writing style - I don't know if McCarthy writes like that all the time, but it did take some getting used to. At first i thought the proofreader has missed some errors, but that was not the case!

  4. Thanks for the plot spoiler. An internet geek like you should know to put a 'spoiler alert' in there...

    Guess I'll have to go and watch that new version of the A-Team instead now, you know that one where these chinless wonders escape from a public school and manage to hoodwink a nation...again... Cameron and Osbourne are apparently shockingly unconvincing though...

    Hate to imagine what the 'A' stands for too...

  5. You should contact your local newspaper YP and get yourself a job as a reveiewer. That was excellent.

  6. All that culture for less than a tenner. And I include the fish and chip supper in that. But really YP - I love a review, but don't tell us the ending! Plot, for someone shallow like me, is ALL.

  7. Glad you enjoyed it, but it sounds like a strange choice of film for an "elderly folks session"!

  8. "And so for £3.70 I enjoyed fish and chips with the obligatory mushy peas, a slice of bread and butter and a pot of tea."

    Crikey, what am I doing in Paris when I could be eating grand stuff like this! Fish and chips done well is a dish for kings...

  9. Hey, lucky you! I wish they had offers like that round here! Of course over here in Wales, we are all so young in body and mind we don't need pensioner perks. ;)

  10. Anonymous5:23 pm

    Ditto on the Spoiler Alert......now I don't have to either read the book or see the movie !!!

  11. DAN Even when you have kids, there's a guy or gal inside who needs to be heard in his/her own right so don't be a wimp!
    KATHERINE England? I believe it was fillmed in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Louisiana.
    SAM Glad you at least understood what I meant by the title of this blogpost - "Milestone". It's other people who grow old - not us!
    B.BOOTH Plot spoiler? Sorry. I didn't mean to give the game away. It's just that I am not accustomed to reviewing films. You should still see "The Road". My words wouldn't matter.
    STEVE You're too kind sir.
    MOPSA Sorry if I gave too much away. Do they have cinemas in Devon?
    BRIAN Death? Bleakness? Scavenging for food? Isn't this what old age is mostly about? Forget Saga and Sanataogen!
    DUMDAD Isn't Paris known as Gay Paree? I can hardly imagine what you are doing there.
    JENNY Any more of that cheek and I will give you a pensioner perk myself!
    ANONYMOUS - Well I hve saved you some time and money then!

  12. No John, it's a dismal film.


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